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Emotional homecoming for local Marines
After a nearly six-month long deployment spent conducting training exercises in the Far East, about 90 Marines returned home to Yuma Tuesday morning amid plenty of cheers, and more than a few hugs, kisses and tears of joy from family members and loved ones.
The private carrier that was flying the Marines back here landed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma shortly before 9 a.m.
From there the Marines were bussed back to the squadron's hangar, where they stood in formation as its doors slowly slid opened, revealing them to those who were waiting anxiously inside.
Inside the squadron's hangar, Warrant Officer Rich Karren, the detachment commander, was greeted by his wife Melissa.
"I'm just so glad he is back," she said. "We moved here two weeks before he left on the deployment."
Karren said he plans to settle in and spend time with his family, which is something he didn't get to do before he deployed.
That sentiment was echoed by other families, including the loved ones of Lance Cpl. Orrett Dennis.
"We couldn't wait to see each other again," said his wife Adylene. "The homecoming was delayed twice before."
Now that her husband is back home, Adylene said they plan to celebrate the holidays they were unable to be together for, and maybe even go on a trip.
"I'm finally going to get to open my Christmas presents," said Orrett, who was returning from his first deployment.
The Dennis couple, who have been married for about a year and a half, said they were able to stay in touch using the computer system Skype to talk to each other every day.
The Marines, who are from VMA-513 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, deployed on Aug. 27, 2009, as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
"It's good to be back," Karren said. "It was long and fun. We did what we were sent to do."
Lance Cpl. Roderick Boykin was met by his friend Jasmine Delgado, who was pregnant with her daughter the last time they saw each other.
"Now he gets to see her for the first time and hold her," she said. "We have been waiting a long time for him to get back."
Boykin said, "It feels good to be back. It has been a long time."
While deployed, VMA-513 and MALS-13 participated in exercises Ryuku Warrior, Talisman Saber and Wolmi-Do Fury.
Ryuku Warrior and Wolmi-Do Fury were joint exercises in which VMA-513 provided close air support and nontraditional intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance.
Talisman Saber, which is conducted twice a year in Australia between U.S. and Australian forces, focuses on operational warfighting in advanced scenarios that encompass ground, air and sea environments.
The Marines were originally scheduled to depart the air station on Aug. 16, 2009, but were delayed three times because the airline company that was transporting the squadrons was having problems with the plane.
VMA-513 last deployed with the MEU in December 2007, returning in July 2008. During that deployment, the squadron participated in exercises Balikatan in the Philippines and Cobra Gold in Thailand.
Both exercises were designed to improve U.S. relations and provide unique training opportunities.
The remainder of VMA-513 deployed in September as part of the 11th MEU.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.