Marines and sailors dispatched to the Middle East returned home after a nearly eight month deployment to loved ones cheering, eagerly awaiting their arrival.
Fifty Marines from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response – Central Command 15.2 (SPMAGTF-CR-CC 15.2) returned to Camp Pendleton from the Middle East after they deployed in April 2015.
"I don't think it hit me until we got to, like, Fallbrook, because we just kind of puddle jumped all the way across, and then once we got here, it was like, we're here," said U.S. Marine Corporal Dakota Render. "'Oh wow we're here!' So it feels good, it feels good to be back on US soil."
One Lt. Commander returning home saw her kids rush out of the crowd while the group was still in formation, too excited to wait. They said they were "freaking out" about seeing their mom come home.
"I didn't even recognize him because the hair is different and they're so big and they're talking differently," said Lt. Commander Kim Dobrzyn.
The Marines were in the region to provide crisis response and operated out of several locations in the Middle East.
When the Marines deployed, they provided support for U.S. Central Command and to Operation Inherent Resolve with kinetic airstrikes and the reinstatement of the Al Taqaddum Air Base. They also provided support for Marine Corps Advise and Assist activities and Building Partner Capacity missions at Al Taqaddum and Al Asad air bases in Iraq. Part of what they did was continue to support the development of Iraqi forces in their effort to combat ISIS.
"Our primary mission was forward to provide crisis response," said Lt. Colonel Jay Matt, a U.S. Marine. "It's a very diverse mission, as well as crisis response, also training coalition partners, training ourselves, keeping ourselves ready for anything that happens."
They flew 83,000 flight hours and transported 2.8 million pounds of cargo.
Over the next two weeks, the remaining 900 marines deployed will return to 29 Palms.