MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Cheers and screams of excitement from family and friends bellowed down a small street here as a group of more than 100 Marines and sailors approached, marching in formation.
“Battery, halt! Fallout!” yelled the commander.
Just as the Marines and sailors stepped out of their formation, family and friends rushed to welcome them back home, Aug. 3.
Marines of Tango Battery, 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, returned from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province where they served as support for infantry units.
Excited children and family members jumped into the arms of their loved ones with tears of joy and smiles on their faces. The reunion welcomed families who worried about their deployed loved ones.
“He is my only child,” said Sheila Asfaha, a San Francisco native and mother of Cpl. Nicholas Asfaha, a fire direction control specialist with Tango Battery, 5th Bn., 11th Marines. “That made it very difficult, but he was always motivated about what he was doing. He would call me and seem just so happy.”
She said the fact that her son seemed happy about his job eased her nerves.
“I was really excited when I saw my mom for the first time, but I didn’t think she would recognize me because I grew a mustache,” said Asfaha.
The deployment was the longest amount of time he has ever spent away from home, and he said he would take a home-cooked meal over a Meal, Ready-to-Eat any day.
Many children were seen in their arms throughout the night.
“The last time my husband saw his son was when he was six-months-old,” said Kay Grimmett, a native of Hawaii. “This was his sixth deployment, but us having a son made it a little more difficult.”
During the Battery’s deployment, they shattered the battalion’s last record by firing well more than 200 rockets from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The previous record was approximately 140 rockets fired.
“Our overall mission was to provide rocket artillery fire support,” said Capt. Chad Grimmet, Tango Battery’s commanding officer. “It was something our guys did really well.”
When Capt. Grimmett saw his son, he was all smiles as he carried him for the rest of the evening.