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24th MEU tour extended a month

Mother of Lejeune corporal is disappointed by the news

As word spread throughout the community and country that the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's stay in Afghanistan will be extended, families of those deployed dealt with the heartache of not seeing their loved ones as soon as they'd hoped.


July 4, 2008 - 12:49AM

Mary Arbuckle, whose son is stationed with the Camp Lejeune-based unit, tried to hold back tears as she described reading about the extension on the Web site of another Marine parent.

"It's hard for me to handle this," she said in a telephone interview from her home in Somis, Calif., "I'm in shock."

Arbuckle said it's hard to handle the disappointment of not seeing her son, but she understands how things often change in the service.

"I respect the Marine Corps," she said. "But you still miss your family so much."

Maj. Dave Nevers, a Marine Corps spokesman, issued a statement regarding the extension.

"The 24th MEU will continue conducting full-spectrum operations in Afghanistan for an additional month at the request of the International Security Assistance Force, and with the approval of Secretary Gates," he said.

Arbuckle said she hasn't heard from her son, Lance Cpl. Eric Arbuckle, who is assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, in about two weeks. She said getting the news Thursday through the military grapevine, with no official word, was concerning.

"I don't know why they can't get reserves to go out there or other units that have not gone," she said.

Nevers said there is a reason why these Marines in particular will be deployed longer than expected.

"This will afford the MEU the opportunity to continue building on the tremendous success they have achieved during its tour there," he said. "The Marines are now scheduled to return home in early to mid-November."

Arbuckle expected her son home in October or sooner. Now, she is trying to make sense of all of this new information.

"I don't know what the implications are," she said. "I hope they are home for Thanksgiving."