MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
During the redeployment for Marines of 1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, the homecoming Marines were surprised to be welcomed back by two of their own aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., August 13, 2011.
Lance Cpl. Thomas Heine and Sgt. Joshua A. Elliott, combat engineers with 1st Platoon, were both there to greet the Marines as they turned in weapons at the armory before returning to the battalion command post to see their families. Both Heine and Elliot were injured during the platoon’s seven-month deployment to Afghanistan and had to return early.
The platoon was attached to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd MarDiv. The platoon was attached in order to carry out mine sweeping, IED detection and security details.
The homecoming Marines were excited to see the Marines who had been injured and who they had been keeping in their thoughts for so long and glad to see they were doing alright.
“It was tough not knowing how they were doing,” said 1st Lt. Nathan Stokes, commander of 1st Platoon. “We kept them in our thoughts and prayers every single day. I’m just glad to have them back.”
Hugs and handshakes were had by all the homecoming Marines before they were finished turning over their dust-covered weapons. Finally, it was time to see their families and loved ones that they had waited so long for.
“I’m extremely proud of all these Marines but most of all I’m proud of my son,” said the father of Cpl. Tom Hofelich, combat engineer, 1st platoon. “The hardest thing is not hearing and not knowing. It’s great to finally have him home.”
Hofelich, whose parents were informed earlier in the year of an injury he had sustained, were both extremely anxious to hear that their son was OK.
“We waited and waited with no word on his condition,” said Hofelich’s father. “But finally he called us and told us he was alright and that just made everything alright.”
After the Marines got a chance to see friends and family and tell stories, most decided it was time to go.
“I need to get off this base and get a chicken sandwich!” Hofelich said.