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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Some Kane'ohe Marines return home

 •  Military families readjust to living together again

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

About 40 Kane'ohe Bay Marines returned from the Iraq War at about 10:30 last night to a greeting of ecstatic family members, welcome home signs and home-baked cookies.

The 1st Radio Battalion Marines, who arrived at Honolulu International Airport after spending a couple of days at Camp Pendleton, Calif., represent the largest contingent of Hawai'i-based ground troops to return so far.

A group of 250 1st Radio Battalion Marines left for Kuwait on Feb. 9 along with about 30 Kane'ohe Marines from the 4th Force Reconnaissance Co.

Some wives made signs Sunday for the return and tried to endure the final wait for military transport from California to Hawai'i.

"When we were sign-painting, there was a lot of chatter, 'My husband is coming back home,'" said Julie Aycock, whose husband, Lt. Col. Mark T. Aycock, is the 1st Radio Battalion's commanding officer, and will be among the last to return.

About 10 Radio Battalion Marines returned about 1 1/2 weeks ago.

In a May 11 letter to families back home, Aycock said more than 100 Marines and sailors from the 1st and 2nd Radio Battalions had returned to Kuwait from Iraq the week before, and the 1st Battalion Marines were cleaning and preparing equipment for the trip home.

"While most are focused on returning to Hawai'i, the battalion will have 82 Marines tasked to support the stability and humanitarian assistance phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom," Aycock said. "Sixty-one of these Marines are from the 1st Radio Battalion and will not be returning to Hawai'i until later this year."

Aycock said the Marines will be returning in waves. He also included his thanks for support from home.

"The packages, letters, photos and e-mail, while slow in getting delivered, did make a difference," he said. "I am not forgetting that this deployment has been stressful for each of you ..."

The wife of a Marine who returned May 10 is due to deliver a baby next month, and the wives of two other Marines — not among the group that returned last night — are due any day now.

Some 4th Force Marines from Hawai'i are expected to return home in August.

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-5459.