MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
It's been eight months, but families of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit eagerly gathered from across the country, Dec. 12- 15, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to welcome their loved ones.
Newborn babies, wives, husbands, families, and a few dogs huddled around personalized signs and American flags watching their breathe in the cold, waiting for their loved ones.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen my boyfriend, too long,” said Evangelyn Rubio, girlfriend of Sgt. Matthew G. Long, a machine gunner with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. “I just want to see him and have him home.”
While deployed, the MEU participated in more than 15 different theater security cooperation or bi-lateral exercises. The exercises included combined arms and desert survival training with French forces in Djibouti, the Malaysia-US Amphibious Exercise, Combined Afloat Readiness and Training in Brunei, and more than 12 subject matter expert exchanges with partner nations throughout the Middle East. Notably, those exchanges included the MEU’s Female Engagement Team training with their counterparts in the Qatari Internal Security Forces.
Throughout the Marines’ deployment, families mailed care packages of blankets, socks, and phone cards to remind their Marine of the support they have back home.
“I sent Matthew a care package every month to include birthday and anniversary gifts, Rubio said. “I just wanted him to know that I’m always thinking of him even when he’s far away.”
After hours of waiting, a few Marines walk toward the homecoming reception. Within seconds, Rubio recognized one of the faces and without hesitation, rushes up to him wrapping her arms around him in a warm embrace.
“I’m surprised how quickly she was able to recognize me, Long said. “She’s such a good girlfriend, I don’t know how I was able to be this lucky and couldn’t ask for anyone better to be welcomed home by.”
The Marines hugged their families and after finding their bags, were gone in a flash.
Long added that the Marines of 3rd Bn., 1st Marines will never forget their time and experiences they’ve gone through together, but now it’s time for the Marines to spend some quality time with their families.
“The 15th MEU’s success over the last 15 months, from composite to returning to home port, is due to the discipline, hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of the young men and women who chose to sacrifice for their families, their friends, their fellow Marines and their nation,” said Col. Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer, 15th MEU.