San Diego

Marines, Sailors, Reunite with Loved Ones After 7-Month Long Deployment

The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed mid-October 2016.

Lance Corporal Shane McMain ran across the way at Camp Pendleton and swept his pregnant wife up in a big hug. 

McMain, one of the thousands of Marines and Sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) returning home Thursday, was relieved he made it back in time for his wife, Madison's, birth. 

"Thank God," he told NBC 7. "I just can't wait."

He knelt down to kiss his wife's pregnant belly. 

"I was fortunate enough to get back in time, so I’m very excited," he said. 

More than 2,400 Marines and Sailors from the 11th MEU ran to see their families at Camp Pendleton after their seventh month deployment to the Western Pacific, Middle East and Horn of Africa. 

The 11th MEU deployed mid-October 2016. The Marines supported Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Operation Oaken Steel in Djibouti. Those deployed participated in training exercises in Guam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Oman, Kuwait and more. 

For many, the homecoming was a sweet moment. 

McMain said his wife surprised him at the homecoming - she had not told him she would show up. However, McMain said, as they were coming in to Camp Pendleton, he had a feeling she would be there. 

"I was sitting in the track before we splashed and I was like, she's going to be there," he said. "I know her and I knew that she'd be here for some reason. It was definitely a surprise, but the best surprise."

Another couple celebrated the homecoming by exchanging the wedding rings they had been keeping for each other. 

"It's been a long seven months," said Mason Wallace. 

"Very long," added his wife, Felicia. 

The pair shared a long embrace before Felicia took her husband's ring off her neck and returned it. In turn, he gave Felicia her wedding ring back. 

"I’m just happy to be home," Mason said. "It was a long seven months, being away from my family, and I’m just happy to be able to get together with my wife."

In the coming days, the sailors will return to their bases and stations in Southern California and Arizona. 

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