Valley Marines Return Home

4/10/2008 Fresno, CA It was a happy homecoming as 52 Marines arrived to their loved ones at the Marine Reserve Training Center around midnight. They had been gone seven months to work ground support in the war in Iraq. One Marine saw his daughter for the very first time.

This is the second group of Marines to return to Fresno. The first group came back in late March. Another 30 to 40 Marines will return to Fresno on Friday.

It was Angelica Figueroa's birthday, which happened to be the day her daddy finally came home from Iraq. And he did, right at midnight here at the Marine training center.

The bus was late, but more importantly, it was finally here. One by one each Marine emerged to the open arms of waiting loved ones, some crying tears of relief and joy. "I'm very happy, very excited. This is the day I was waiting for. So happy, I can't even explain," said Mia Barajas, mother of a returning Marine.

Returning Marine Mona Barajas said, "It feels amazing. With everybody here, it's a great feeling to be home. Thank you."

The thanks actually belongs to her and her fellow Marines. For the past seven months, the soldiers served as ground support for Marine air operations in Iraq. "It's been a really long time. Did what I had to do, but it feels great," said returning Marine Jared Rice.

Another Marine, Donovan Herrera said, "I just can't wait to go home and eat my mom's food. I've been thinking about that for like seven months."

The 52 Marines first arrived Wednesday in San Diego, and after hours of delays, were bussed to Fresno. Just in time to keep a promise for Angelica Figueroa's birthday.

This was the second group to arrive. The first group of Marines arrived in late March. Another group is expected on Friday.

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