Hundreds of Marine Sweathogs Back from Iraq - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/26/07

Hundreds of Marine Sweathogs Back from Iraq

After seven months in Iraq, some 300 Beaufort Marines stepped off the plane and into their families' arms Monday night at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

The Sweathogs from Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 pumped fuel, fixed runways and recovered downed aircraft, but now they're more than happy to be home.

Looking longingly at the plane, hundreds of friends and family members couldn't wait much longer.

"He's way over there," lamented Dairrlon Booker, whose father was returning. "Get off the plane! Get off the plane!"

While they waited, those same folks were planning out what they were going to do.

"Give him a squeeze," grinned 5-year-old Samantha Baldwin.

So when that long line started across the tarmac, they were almost in a frenzy.

As they made it closer, it was time for people try picking out their loved ones, successfully camouflaged among their fellow Marines.

"Is that him right there?" strained Jen Ringling, looking for her husband. "I think, yeah."

Ringling's mother in law was a little more confidant: "I know my son. That's him right there! The good-lookin' Marine."

Then all they had to do was wait for that final command, and launch an attack of their own.

"This is probably the best feeling of my life," said Lance Cpl. Gary Ringling. "Out of 24 years being alive, these are probably the best feelings because the bird lands, and you know your family is sitting there. Everything just hits you because you see your family waiting for you."

And just like that, entire families are complete again.

"I've never seen this nephew before. He was born when I was on leave," said Ringling.

This was the second deployment for the entire squadron since 2004, and all but 100 are already home.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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