MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (May 13) --
After six months of patiently waiting loved ones welcomed home the Marines and Sailors of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 upon their arrival to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point from Afghanistan May 7.
While deployed, VMAQ-3 flew more than 2,575 hours in combat, conducting more than 630 missions, and jamming enemy communications in support of operations in southern Afghanistan.
“The communications jamming is critical because the insurgents use communications to set up ambushes and coordinate attacks on coalition forces,” said Capt. Nathan C. Berth, electronic countermeasures officer for VMAQ-3. “It’s given all our troops outside the wire the upper hand. They’re able to successfully do their mission whether it’s convoys, road clearing, country building, or raids without the enemy being able to use an early warning system.”
After a successful deployment, the Moondogs came home to a warm welcome. Families, friends, an ensemble from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, and supporters from the USO greeted the Marines when they returned to the VMAQ-3 hangar.
“It’s night and day from being deployed and being able to stay at home and see your family,” said Berth. “Being able to have those little creature comforts are nice again. For most guys, it’s getting reacquainted with the family. One of our captains had a kid while he was deployed, and this is going to be the first time he’s seen his new born.”
It wasn’t until shortly after midnight when the families reunited with their Marines and Sailors.
“I felt really empty inside while he was away,” said Trinh DiNoto, who welcomed home her husband, 1st Lt. Christopher J. DiNoto. “When he arrived, I felt like we were whole again, like our family was complete.”
Donald J. Coons, a retired corpsman and a member of the Marine Corps League, John A. Lejeune detachment of Virginia Beach, Va., was also in attendance. This Vietnam War and Beirut veteran came to meet a friend and fellow member of the Marine Corps League, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Palmer, a corpsman for VMAQ-3. In his years, Coons said returns have changed much for the better.
“It was my honor and a privilege to meet and greet the Marines coming home,” said Coons. “I think it’s a great opportunity to say thanks for a job well done. I think it’s great the way the military is being treated today in comparison to the way we were being treated when we came back from Vietnam. It’s a major change. It’s wonderful.”