MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
In the cool, early morning hours of the North Carolina fall, friends and families of Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, welcomed them home after their seven-month deployment.
Most of the families were gathered as early as 3 a.m. awaiting the arrival of their loved ones with banners, posters and signs.
“We drove 17 hours to be here,” said Andres Lopez, father of Sgt. Jorge Lopez-Garcia, a Marine with 2nd CEB, who drove all the way from Chicago. “We’re all excited to see him. This is my first time being able to see him come back home so that’s why I’m so excited.”
Before they could see their loved ones, the Marines first stop was right outside their unit’s armory to return their weapons. Once at the armory, they were greeted with hugs and handshakes by Lance Cpl.s Stephen Ayhens, Michael Boucher, Ronald Barnes and Cpl. Tony Mullis, with 2nd CEB who returned from the deployment early due to injuries.
After retuning their weapons, they made their way back onto the buses and rode to the area where their friends and families were waiting for them. When they finally arrived and began to come out of the busses, the crowd quickly rushed toward them looking for their Marines.
While some families came from across the country, others have been here in the local area, patiently waiting for their loved ones to return from their deployment in Afghanistan.
“We’ve been married a little over a year,” said Grace Cochran, wife of Cpl. Michael Cochran. “It was definitely stressful at times because I was at school just before he deployed so I couldn’t really see him as often as I wanted to. I moved back to Jacksonville after I was done with school.”
Grace also said she had a tough time while her husband was deployed because she was new to the area and didn’t know that many people, but was simply happy her husband had returned home.
“It was tough at first, and I could only talk to him once every few weeks,” she continued. “I just can’t wait to see him and finally be with him and just relax.”