Marines Return from Duty in Iraq - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 04/28/08

Marines Return from Duty in Iraq

By Roslyn Anderson

A homecoming Monday for marines returning from service in Iraq. The U.S. Marine Corps Charlie Company Anti-Terrorism Battalion is back on Mississippi soil.

It was a day the Marines and their families had been looking forward to for months.

The plane touched down at Jackson Evers International Airport around 4:30 p.m.  

Roaring Jackson Police Department motorcycle engines escorted the 48 Marines to the Armed Forces Reserve Training Center on Officer Thomas Cathings Sr. Drive, where anxious loved ones awaited their arrival. They greeted the busload of troops with cheers, personalized signs and American flags.

For 10 months, including seven in Iraq, the Marines had been separated from family and friends.

Lance Corporal David Ellis held his fiance, Ashley Stringer, in a long embrace after exiting the bus. He said he looked forward to getting back to his normal life and job -- and to getting married.

Lance Corporal Ronnie Thornton had not seen his son Jaden since the child was two weeks old.

"The thing I missed most was my family," Thornton said after holding up his son to get a second look. "I'm just happy to be back to my family."

Hugs abounded as parents and children, husbands and wives re-united.

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and wife Melody were among them, holding up a sign welcoming their oldest son, Sgt. Michael Smith.

Charlie Company mobilized last June, training for three months before leaving Camp Lejune, South Carolina, in September for the Middle East.

"It's nice to see we're appreciated for a job well done," said Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Peterman. While we were there, we did convoy security team. We also did route security missions and went out and worked with Iraqi Highway Patrol helping them set up so they can control their country."

"We went over and we did our job for seven months, and that's what they asked for," said Marine Ambakisye Smith. "That's what we take pride in doing."

The unit consists of Marines from Greenville to the metro Jackson area and down to the coast.

No lives were lost during their service.

"It's good to see that my guys' families were here to greet them," said Peterman. "I know they really missed their families. It's good for them to get to see them."

Charlie Company made it to U.S. soil on April 22, arriving at Camp Lejune from Iraq.

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