GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - 1st Battalion 24th Marines Alpha Company arrived safety to Grand Rapids Wednesday after serving nine months in Afghanistan.
The heartwarming welcome home party at the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Grand Rapids was filled with families and loved ones waiting to wrap their arms around the men and women who've given so much to serve our country. Many families told FOX 17 News, the wait was the hardest part, but thankful everyone made it home safely.
"He'd get WiFi about once or twice a week and we'd get a Facebook message around 3:00 a.m.," said Tim Erspamer, a father of a Marine.
160 Marines in all were grateful to be back on American soil, arriving more than two hours late to their welcome home party. Caitlyn Selleck, wife of Corporal Brandon Selleck, brought their newborn complete with a T-shirt that read: 'Welcome home daddy, I've waited by whole life to meet you.'
"The best part about being home is seeing my kid for the first time," Corporal Selleck said after kissing his wife for the first time in months. "I'm happy and filled with joy. A lot of different things are on my mind right now."
Corporal Hayden Gort also picked up where he left off, only this time with a new member to his family, a puppy named Sabula.
"Sabula was found in a dumpster in Afghanistan, and immediately Hayden fell in love with her," said Amber Blake, Gort's longtime girlfriend.
After raising thousands of dollars to send Sabula back home to the states, Corporal Gort was able to rendezvous with his happy pup and thankful family.
For all 160 Marines, it's back to life as a civilian until they're asked to answer the call of duty once again. The men and women will be given 96 hours with their families before returning to the center in Grand Rapids Monday for training.