Family and friends greeted members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit with hugs, kisses, smiles and tears at Camp Pendleton on Thursday afternoon.
The unit returned home from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and the Middle East.
“For us, we’re kind of used to this since we’ve done it five times,” said Gunnery Sgt. David Smith after he embraced his wife. “But it’s always good. As soon as we left the ship, I felt warm and fuzzy and got goosebumps. I was ready to see my wife.”
Even though Smith has been deployed five times, his wife, Rachel Smith, said every deployment is difficult.
“It’s hard,” Rachel Smith said. “Every day is hard. Like he said, I’m used to it, but I’m glad he’s home now!”
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay departed San Diego on Feb. 22 with 2,200 Marines and 1,800 sailors. The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s mission was to provide humanitarian aid, support operations overseas and combat piracy.
Caroline Pino and her 8-month-old son eagerly awaited the return of her cousin.
“Her family is on the East Coast, so I’m the only one here,” Pino said. “I’m so excited! I love her.”
Sandra Schifferer-Sepulveda said she had to enroll in college preparatory courses to “stay focused and not worry so much” while her 22-year-old son was deployed.
“I’d like to thank the armed forces for doing everything that they do for the country,” Schifferer-Sepulveda said. “My son is just loving it. That’s what he was born to do.”
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group is expected to return to its homeport of San Diego on Friday.