MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Sixty-four Marines and 11 sailors from Marine Air Control Squadron 1 returned home from a deployment in Iraq, Sunday evening here.
Many friends and family from across the country were there to greet the Marines at the Sonoran Pueblo.
“These are my boys, I am incredibly anxious to see them,” said Master Sgt. Charles Olvis, MACS-1 operations chief. Olvis had been deployed with the unit until he was forced to come home due to the needs at the air station.
Family and friends waited for their loved ones patiently in Sonoran Pueblo’s Boyington room, eating cookies, donuts and other pastries in the afternoon and early evening hours.
After an eventful ride home on the charter bus ride home from San Diego, the family members finally got there wish at 7:30 p.m. when they finally got to see their loved ones.
A classic Marine term, “cluster” easily described the scene as the Marines and sailors left the buses.
“We surprised him, Mark thought no one was coming,” exclaimed an emotional AnnMarie Chase, mother of Lance Cpl. Mark Hawkins, MACS-1 radar repairman.
She felt that during her son’s tenure in Iraq her best care package was a salami and cheese feast, not the most traditional of mail calls.
“We packed it very well, it was expensive but definitely worth it,” Chase said.
Some others had much more traditional favorite care packages.
“I loved my Christmas care package. I got pictures, videos, cookies and other presents,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brian Gooden, MACS-1 tower chief.
Cynthia Ryan, Gooden’s longtime girlfriend sent him the Christmas package.
“It exciting for Brian to be coming home, I am very grateful. In some ways, time went fast but in the past two weeks time could not have gone any slower for me,” said Ryan.
“I am worried about him being under constant stress for 14 months straight. We are both prepared for the unexpected and now we’ve had a flavor of this experience, which I believe is a good thing,” Ryan added.
The two spent their first time together relaxing in the Staff Non-Commissioned Officers lounge at the Sonoran Pueblo.
The Marines and sailors will have a couple shortened work weeks to get all their administrative business in order and to get adjusted back to Yuma’s environment.
The majority of the returning service members have been deployed since February. According to Irene Olvis, Key Volunteer Network coordinator, this is the first time sailors have ever deployed with MACS-1.