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Marines come home

It may have been just another Tuesday for many of us but for eighty marines and their loved ones, it may be one of the most memorable days of their lives.

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Greeted with kisses, hugs and tears


JoAnn Merrigan
WSAV News 3
Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Members of the Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, based out of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort hadn't seen wives, sons, daughters, moms of dads for seven months. They came home after a tour of duty in western Iraq.

Anxious relatives had been waiting for about two hours for the buses carrying the marines to finally arrive.

"I have butterflies in my stomach, I'm so excited," Raven Aviles says.

When asked what she did to fill her time while her husband was away she laughs and says "well, I had a baby!"

Her husband will see his five month old baby boy for the first time today.

Wylene McGee sits nearby. Her 3 year old son is anxious to see his dad. McGee says she's been afraid, but she has been able to talk to her husband by phone and through email during the separation. "He's done very well. Yeah, we've talked to him a lot. He's work hard and he said it was okay."

Although the marines were stationed more than 200 miles from Baghdad, their superiors say they faced daily dangers. And they come home during an intense time in the country. Deadly attacks continue between Sunnis and Shiites after last week's shrine bombing, creating an even more uncertain environment.

Paul and Donnie Coombs have come to South Carolina from Connecticut to be here when there 21 year old son gets back from Iraq.

"We've been you know very anxious throughout the whole thing and like I say just hoping for the best," Coombs tells me.

And Cassandra Hawkey told us she could barely wait another second, saying her husband had been gone for almost a year.

"We got married January 29th of last year and he left right after that on February 7th," Hawkey says.

Most of the relatives waiting tell me they don't always watch the daily news reports of what's happening in Iraq, saying it's just too hard.

"It was real hard after he left and then later I just felt like I was numb," Hawkey says.

After a wait of more than two hours relatives hear the sound of honking. Three buses carrying their loved ones are driving into the parking lot.

Soon, there are reunions all around.

"I'm happy, I sure have no complaints," Sgt. Lamonte McGee says as he greets his wife and son. "It's finally setting in now (that I'm really here.)"

Cassandra Hawkey finds her husband, Garrett. Later, Lance Corporal Garrett Hawkey kisses his wife and says he has plenty of money now and maybe they will just get their honeymoon.

Like so many other couples here, the Hawkeys will need to enjoy their time together. These members of the Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 are scheduled for another tour of duty in Iraq in August.

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