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News: 'Watchdogs' return home from deployment

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'Watchdogs' return home Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

Cpl. Dillon Erickson, field radio operator, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1, is reunited with his girlfriend, Gail Bolander, during the squadron's homecoming at the VMU-1 hangar Nov. 22, 2013.

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Approximately 55 Marines with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 returned home to the Combat Center Saturday after a nearly seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The unit, also known as the Watchdogs, returned from their first deployment as a detachment, which began in June. VMU-1 is a subordinate command of Marine Air Control Group 38 and 3rd Marine Air Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Family members, friends and co-workers awaited the arrival of the squadron at the VMU-1 hanger, waving flags and preparing refreshments for the Marines.

“A lot of us worked together to make this homecoming as special as possible,” said Heather Hutchinson, family readiness officer, VMU-1. “As deployments can be hard on the Marines and their family members, we do our best to make their arrival as welcoming as possible.”

While deployed, VMU-1 provided day and night support to the troops on the ground with full motion video, conducting route and area scans, and providing over-watch for convoys, according to Maj. Daniel Schnick, executive officer, VMU-1.

“The Marines did a fantastic job, worked hard, cared about their job and now have a great experience under their belts,” Schnick said.

Upon their return, the squadron will be supporting Integrated Training Exercise 2-14 in January and immediately followed by ITX 3-14 in March.

For some of the Marines, they were uncertain who would be waiting for them upon their arrival. Cpl. Robert Halverson, data network specialist, was one of those Marines, and was not expecting to see any of his family.

Linda Clarin, Halverson’s grandmother, flew from Minnesota to surprise her oldest grandson at the homecoming.

“It was a long flight with a lot of delays, but it made it all worth it to see him get off the bus,” Clarin said. “It was always nerve racking to think about what he was doing overseas, and I’m just so happy to have him home.”

Undoubtedly, Halverson was just as excited to see his grandmother as he did not expect to see any family at the hangar.

“It was definitely a pleasant surprise to see her,” Halverson said. “It is great to be back and I look forward to going back to Minnesota to spend time with my family,” Halverson said.


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Date Taken:11.23.2013

Date Posted:11.26.2013 18:20



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