MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Feb. 5, 2012) --
Nearly 300 Marines and Sailors set foot back onto Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Feb. 2 through Feb. 5, returning home from deployments spanning the globe.
The majority of the Marines and Sailors were deployed to Afghanistan from six months to a year. Meanwhile Marines and Sailors with Marine Attack Squadron 231 spent more than 10 months at sea attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is one of the longest MEU floats since WWII, said Maj. Ben Hutchins, officer in charge of the VMA-231 detachment.
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Lance Cpl. Kristofer H. Lawrence, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense specialist with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) “The best part about being deployed was the experience and knowledge I gained in my job. The worst thing, of course, was being away from my family, but now I’m home and the feeling of accomplishment I have right now is great.”
2nd MAW (Fwd.) accepted responsibility of coalition air combat efforts in the Regional Command Southwest area of operations from 3rd MAW (Fwd.) in early March 2011. Now approximately one year later, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) will hand the reigns back over to 3rd MAW (Fwd.), based in MCAS Miramar, Calif.
“It feels amazing to be home after all this time,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan L. Reinke, the mobility chief for MWHS-2. “It was a long year and there’s nothing better than coming back home to my wife and my boys. Now it’s time to be with them again.”
The anticipation seemed evident at each return as the family members and friends waited for their Marines and Sailors to return.
“I’m excited but also nervous and anxious for him to be home,” said Jen Reinke, spouse of Staff Sgt. Reinke. “He’s been on many deployments and this time his second son was born while he was home on his two weeks of recovery. I’m so proud of him but I’m also just ready for him to be home.”
This is only the first wave of 2nd MAW (Fwd.) Marines and Sailors, returning home, with several more to come in the following weeks.
Throughout the deployment at sea or in Afghanistan the Marines and Sailors carried out thousands of missions, including troop transport, aerial resupply, close-air support and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel.
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Witczak, the commanding officer for MWHS-2 welcomed home many of the Marines and Sailors who returned home Feb. 5.
“Marines deploy, that’s what we do,” said Witczak. “The most important thing right now is for these Marines to be back with their families and friends. They did an excellent job and now it’s time for some rest.”