MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
They had been waiting for months, and now – they just had a few more moments.
Friends and families of the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, sought shade under tents during the day and cover from the rain at night while they bided their time before they could reunite with their loved ones.
The unit returned home, June 4, after leaving for Afghanistan in November, where they played a key role in the renewed effort to support Operation Enduring Freedom, said Maj. Brian Mulvihill, executive officer, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines
The unit performed stability, security and construction operations, as well as mentoring and training Afghan police and Army personnel, Mulvihill explained. “We were the only U.S. Marine infantry battalion deployed to Afghanistan during that time.”
Terry Christian and his daughter Rebeka drove from their home in Kimsborough, Tenn., to see their son and brother Lance Cpl. Jacob Christian, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, return from his first deployment.
“We’ve been waiting seven months to see him safe and sound on American soil. We were able to keep in touch through email and letters, but seeing him home…” Terry Christian broke off and placed a comforting hand on his daughters shoulder. “We’re just so glad they’re home safe after all they’ve been doing for us.”
Whether they came to welcome home sons, brothers, husbands, or close friends and comrades, there was a sense of longing mixed with excitement as the wait was about to be over.
“We have family coming from everywhere,” said Mark E. Seymon the family readiness officer with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, who is responsible for orchestrating events like homecomings, as well as helping families stay informed about their Marines. “We have family coming from as far as Hong Kong to see their son returning from Afghanistan.”
As a retired sergeant major, Seymon said that seeing the welcome home reception from this side is both exciting and enlightening.
“It’s fun to see how excited everyone gets when the Marines are dismissed and get to go to their families – seeing them for the first time in many months,” he said. “I take a whole lot of pride in doing this and being able to be a part of it.”
Welcoming the Marines home was not only a chance to reunite them with their loved ones, but a chance to show how grateful their friends and family are for their sacrifices, said Sgt. Scott Mastyk, a squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.
“They deserve to come home and see their family and spend time with them,” the New Haven, Conn., native said. “We just want to welcome them home and show how glad we are they made it back safe.”