TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - A crowd of families slowly gather at the edge of the parking lot as a white bus begins to come into view. Family members begin waving American flags and signs that read “Welcome Home” as the sound of the bus's breaks pumping begin an uproar of cheering from families eager to see their Marines. As the bus door opens, Marines who have returned from deployment rush to embrace their loved ones and the two groups merge into one.
The last group of Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 7 returned from Afghanistan after a seven-month deployment with a homecoming at Desert Winds Golf Course, Sunday. The Marines returning represented the final portion of Headquarters and Service Company.
“I’m excited to finally be back and it feels great to be home. I’m full of emotion,” said Sgt. J.P. King, supply administration chief, CLB-7. “Yes we were the last group but it is what it is. Everyone that stayed back had a part to play and not everyone can leave at the same time because the mission still has to be completed.”
CLB-7 worked mostly out of Camp Leatherneck and several other parts of Afghanistan to begin retrograding assets throughout the country by reorganizing to other bases.
The family readiness officer played a key role in keeping family and loved ones informed of the unit’s progress and activities during their deployment.
“I’m just so happy I can help the families in this way,” said Keeter Moss, family readiness officer, CLB-7. “Watching the families reunite at homecoming events is the best part of my job. Since this is the last group, a lot of the anticipation has built up and everyone is really excited.”
The event featured music, free snacks and beverages, a bounce house, unit coins, unit shirts, American flags and snow cones for family members as they waited for their loved ones to arrive from the armory.
“My kids are so excited to see their father come home,” said Michele Godfrey, wife of Maj. Jerry Godfrey, operations officer, CLB-7. “Keeping track of what the unit was doing was awesome, because the kids and I were able to track where their father was going.”
CLB-7 changed over with CLB-1, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton during their deployment to continue the process of retrograding Marine Corps assets in several regions. Deployments bring military families together through a shared experience of having loved ones away for months at a time.
“The parents of this deployment have come together and formed this real tight-knit community,” Moss Said. “I keep in contact with these families throughout the deployment, and it’s on this day that I finally get to meet them and put a face to the name. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have this job, especially when Marines come home.”