MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - After a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 Marines and sailors celebrated coming home to their friends and families at the squadron’s hangar, Feb. 14.
Approximately 120 Marines from the squadron came home to Marine Corps Air Station New River, said Heather Cayson, HMH-464 family readiness officer. The Marines returned in the cold, early morning to a crowd of about 250 anxiously-waiting loved ones armed with welcome-home signs, flowers and embracing arms.
Children sat atop their parent’s shoulders holding large signs to welcome their Marines home while others took photos of the event.
During their deployment to Afghanistan, the squadron’s mission was to provide support, transportation of equipment and supplies, and maneuver troops, Cayson said.
While families and friends waited for the Marines to return home, they were able to keep their children busy with two bounce houses and a large screen television playing the movie Toy Story.
After the Marines stepped off the buses, the crowd of anxiously waiting loved ones began to cheer because they knew they soon would be reunited. The Marines stood in a brief formation as the buses pulled away in front of them.
Once the Marines were released, Marines began to call out names as they searched through the crowd to find their friends and families.
Families held up signs they made to help their Marines locate them.
One of these signs was directed toward Cpl. Will Lopez, an HMH-464 avionics technician.
“We created a colorful welcome home sign, so it would be easier for him to find us in the large crowd,” said Lopez’ father, Wilfredo.
“I really missed my family and friends so much,” said Lopez. “It is great to be back home, and I can’t wait to just relax and enjoy my time with everyone.”
Bouquets of roses and large balloons could be seen throughout the hangar and many wives and girlfriends brought Valentines’ Day gifts to share with their Marine on the holiday.
After the Marines were reunited with their family and friends, they began to leave the hangar in the early hours of the morning, showing their excitement for being home with their loved ones and being able to get some much deserved rest.