MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Marines of Marine Air Control Squadron 2, Detachment Alpha were welcomed home from a seven-month deployment, Sunday.
While deployed to Iraq, 14 Marines of MACS-2 provided air traffic control service in their area of operations for all coalition aircraft 24-hours a day, seven-days a week.
“Our Marines provided ATC service for coalition forces and other governmental agencies in Fallujah, Ramadi and Al Taqaddum,” said 1st Lt. Ben Kiley, Ramadi ATC Marine Mobile Team officer-in-charge.
Aircraft are subjected to artillery fire, sandstorms and many other hazards, the MACS-2 Marines support the war effort by ensuring the aircraft stay out of harm’s way.
“There were a lot of flying missions at night, so we would use night-vision goggles to guide their flight safely,” said Cpl. Ryan Robinson, an ATC specialist with MACS-2. “We did whatever we needed to do to keep those aircraft from running into each other.”
The Marines that returned to the Air Station seemed excited to be back and said they looked forward to spending time with their families.
“I have been deployed to Iraq since July 31, 2006 and I am very happy to see my family again,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Wilson, an ATC navigational aides chief.
“We all got along (in Iraq) but I’m glad to be home,” Robinson said. “After seven months of sand, it’s nice to see some grass and trees.”
Family and friends were not the only ones to welcome home the Marines of MACS-2. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group came to the homecoming to show their support. The Patriot Guard Riders is an organization whose main mission is to peacefully block protesters at military funerals, but they also go to homecomings for service members to give thanks and show their appreciation.
“We just wanted to thank these Marines and welcome them home,” said Tammy Buchanan, a Patriot Guard Rider and mother-in-law of Sgt. Brian Bonham, a Marine who returned with MACS-2. “We want to let every single one of them know that we appreciate their sacrifices for their country.”
The MACS-2 Marines knew when they came back to Fightertown they helped the mission in any way they could.
“The Marines were professional and did a good job,” explained Wilson. “The mission came first everyday.”
“I have a feeling of satisfaction that the Marines I was with performed the mission successfully,” Kiley said. “I’m honored to work with such a good group of Marines.”