MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines from 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were greeted by friends, family and fellow Marines upon their return from Iraq June 17.
The leathernecks arriving at Camp Lejeune via bus were greeted by families lining the roads, holding colorful, hand-made banners, waving American flags and cheering as the chartered buses pulled up to the battalion area.
“This is very exciting,” said Jim Bethany, father of Duncan, Okla., native Cpl. Joshua B. Bethany. “It’s good to see him back safe and sound.”
The families had been hosted in style for the special event, with pizza, sodas and music to entertain them while they waited for the moment they had been anticipating.
The Marines came home after 10 months operating in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom - a period of time the warriors’ families were happy to see come to an end.
“There are no words for it. We’re very excited,” said Linda Riley, grandmother of Paducah, Ky., native Lance Cpl. Steven C. Irvan. “We haven’t seen him for 11 months.”
Though deployments to a combat zone are challenging for families, John and Beatrice
Harrold see the upside for their son, Cpl. Michael J. Harrold, analyst, 2nd Radio
“He went away a young man, but has come back with a self-confidence that can't be bought or taught. You can't get it over the counter or in the classroom. You earn it by going somewhere where things are difficult and overcoming adversity, and performing those things when the stakes are very real,” said Mr. Harrold.
Homecoming was a joy not just for the families, but the Marines as well.
“It feels darn good to be back,” said Cpl. Harrold, a 2002 Redwood Christian High School graduate and one of three brothers in the Marines. “It’s definitely not Iraq.”
“I’m overwhelmed to the point of tears. The little one has changed so much since I’ve been gone,” said Cpl. Bethany as he held his young daughter. “The deployment is not the hardest thing, being over there is not the hardest thing. Being away from family is the hardest thing.”
Having loved ones at home thinking of and supporting the Marines forward-deployed was vital in keeping morale up and maintaining focus on the task at hand, said Bethany.
“Knowing that they’re back home supporting me when I’m there, doing what I need to do to achieve the battalion’s mission, helped me do a better job,” he said.