'Guardians of the sky' arrive home from Operation Iraqi Freedom

16 May 2003 | Pfc. Anthony M. Guas

Tears of joy rolled from the faces of families and friends, who waited with open arms for their Marines, as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 returned home on Tuesday from Kuwait.

The Thunderbolts were sent to Kuwait, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, on
February 11.

Before the arrival of the 251 main body on Tuesday, 10 F/A-18 pilots arrived at the Air Station Monday led by their commanding officer Lt. Col. Thomas Clark.
"It was really hot over there, and I'm glad to be back" said Lt. Dru "Dusty" Davidson, FA-18 pilot, VMFA-251.

Although Davidson was unable to be greeted by his family, who is in Australia, his caring neighbors came to support him. Davidson is an exchange pilot from Australia, who was attached to 251.

"He is like a son to me and I'm glad he's back," said Shirley Smith, Davidson's neighbor.

Many of the Marines returning home from the four-month deployment will be taking long awaited leave.

"It's good to be back. I just want to go home a rest for a little bit," Davidson said.

Arriving in a commercial airliner the main body consisted of more than 150
Marines. Along with 251, Marines from Marine Aircraft Logistics Squadron and other units also arrived on the same flight.

Many of the Marines were excited to see their families and friends as they debarked the plane. Some of them seeing there child for the first time.

"I'm happy to be home and see my family," said Pfc. Ricky Fabian, maintenance administration clerk, VMFA-251. "This is the first time I got to see my son, who is three months."