Marines return to Lejeune - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

5.27.03

Marines return to Lejeune

They did it in Iraq and faced enemy fire. But on this amphibious invasion, Marines storm the friendly shores of Camp Lejeune, destined for the arms of loved ones.

Staff-Sergeant Philip Harrington arrives home to meet a new member of the family. Like the 2,300 other Marines in the 24th Expeditionary Unit, he's been away for more than nine months, missing the birth of his son, Jordan.

"My heart was racing the whole time," said Harrington.

"I just wanted to give him his son," said his wife Nikole. "Just bring a father his son."

The marines returning home from war landed on Onslow Beach in three waves; the first from the U.S.S. Austin, the second, from the Tortuga, and the third, from the Nassau -- a ship that, ironically, lost two sailors overboard during its journey home.

"It just goes to show you, in the military, you can never let your guard up or be complacent," said Gunnery-Sergeant Gregory Miller, who was aboard the Nassau.

This unit had one of the war's longest deployments, sent first to the Mediterranean in August, then re-extended twice to fight in Operation: Iraqi Freedom. But the mission was momentarily forgotten in the fog of embrace.

"I just want to get something to eat and go home and spend some time with my son," Harrington said.

Ending a day when Marines charge one final time, eager to put their boots on familiar soil. And use their arms for love, not war.

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