MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- More than 100 Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 1 returned home to the hugs and handshakes of family, friends and fellow Marines at the Marine Attack Squadron 513 hangar here Monday.
The Marines of MACS-1 were able to add a ray of light to a day known for its tragic events. Despite being the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the MACS-1 Marines lifted the spirits of several dozen family members and hundreds of Marines on station by returning home to Yuma safely.
The Marines returned to station after a seven-month deployment to Al Asad, Iraq, in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
The Marines acted as security personnel for convoys and conducted security patrols around the towns near Al Asad.
Essentially, the Marines performed the duties of the infantry, said 1st Lt. Troy Peterson, platoon commander. It shows the versatility of the MACS- 1 Marines because the majority of them have not conducted security patrols since Marine Combat Training and yet they still performed as expected, said Peterson.
Another equally important aspect of the mission was that all the Marines who left with MACS-1 also returned with the squadron, which says a lot about the quality and caliber of the noncommissioned officers MACS-1 has, said Peterson.
“This unit is very top heavy in regards to rank, and sometimes the NCOs don’t have the chance to lead Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Fernando Huerta, MACS-1 logistics chief.
Despite that, they were able to step up to the challenge and lead like NCOs should, said Huerta. Because of the outstanding leadership displayed in Iraq, four Marines were nominated to receive Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and one Marine was nominated to receive a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Sgt. Wilfredo Salgado-Perez, the MACS-1 Marine nominated for the commendation medal, said he was proud to be recommended for the award but felt he was only doing his job and pointed out the outstanding work of the squad leaders and Marines in the unit.
The thing that enabled these Marines to be so effective while in Iraq was their emphasis on attention to detail, said Peterson. Attention to detail is also one of the most important things Marines need while in the field because it is the small things that can make or break a squadron.
MACS-1 rose up to every challenge it was faced with and still accomplished its mission, said Huerta.
During the welcome home, the sounds of applause, laughter and the slap of handshakes could be heard as the Marines greeted their girlfriends, wives, husbands, children and friends.
One couple even celebrated the return with some humor. Marine spouse Darlene Scott said it was a difficult transition for her to make while her husband, Lance Cpl. Christopher Scott, MACS-1 motor transportation operator, was deployed because she didn’t have anything to clean.
Since he’s been gone there hasn’t been any dirty laundry, dirty dishes or a dirty house to take care of to pass the time, said Scott. But seriously, it was actually the small things, like cleaning up after him, that are remembered the most.
It’s just a relief to have him back here safe and sound where he belongs, said
The Marines will spend the rest of the week checking back in and then proceed on a 96-hour liberty weekend.
Marines are always putting their lives on the line and this is just another testament to the Marine Corps and the Marines of MACS-1 for upholding the standards of the Corps and proving every Marine a rifleman, said Huerta.