Bill Wechter/North County Times
Lance Cpl. Darvin Chavez is greeted by his sister Holly Mbugua and his mother, Helen Lopez, left, Thursday at Camp Pendleton during the return of Marines and sailors. Chavez's family traveled from Shiprock, New Mexico to meet him.
More than 550 Marines and sailors from Camp Pendleton's 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment returned home after what commanders say was a flawless performance in the Nawa district of Afghanistan's Helmand province.
The unit arrived in Afghanistan in late May. Within days, its troops were flown by helicopter into the Nawa district, where they chased out anti-government Taliban fighters and worked closely with the local population.
The entire battalion of about 1,200 is expected home by Christmas. More than 200 got home Monday night and some smaller groups came in earlier this month.