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First group of Yuma's VMA-214 returns home from Afghanistan

By Cpl. Laura A. Mapes | | November 5, 2009

An advanced party of approximately 20 Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 214 returned to Yuma Nov. 1, 2009. after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

At least one Marine from each work section returned early to prepare the squadron for the rest of the unit’s return later this month.

“We all have to get the hangar set back up and recoordinate with station,” said Master Sgt. Robert Wendt, VMA-214 family readiness officer.

After the Marines arrived on station, they turned in their weapons and were released to the arms of their loved ones.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Aubrey Acosta, about her husbands’ return. “I haven’t seen him in months, and he has never held his baby. It’s been really hard, but I’ve had my family here to support me.”

Not only were the Marine’s families at the hangar to greet the Marines returning from their deployment, but their leaders came out to support them as well.

“It’s important that the Marines see their senior leadership before, during and after their deployment,” said Sgt. Maj. Vidaurri Higgins, Marine Aircraft Group 13 sergeant major. “I missed the during part, but I’m here to support them now.”

While deployed, VMA-214 pilots flew close-air support missions for Marines on the ground, as well as air reconnaissance.

A Harrier squadron doesn’t fly 3,000 hours in a year at home, but the squadron flew that in approximately six months without any mishaps or any canceled missions, said Gunnery Sgt. Eric Giannettino, squadron maintenance administration chief.

“The Marines came together and performed well,” said Giannettino. “Overall, the deployment went really well.”

The remainder of the squadron is scheduled to return home by Thanksgiving.

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