Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

February 9, 2013

Fifty local Marine reservists reunited with families after seven-month deployment

SOUTH BEND — Sgt. Ben Martin of Osceola grinned from ear to ear Friday afternoon after being dismissed by the commander of Engineering Company B, 6th Engineer Support Battalion based in South Bend.

He saw his wife, Veronica, holding their 9-month-old son, Clay, who wasn’t quite sure about all the excitement and started crying. The family had tried to get the baby to nap earlier but Clay sensed their excitement and wouldn’t settle down, Veronica said.

Martin didn’t mind. It was just the second time he had met his son.

“I’m happy to be home and doing this now,” Martin, 26, said, pointing to Clay. “The days were very long (in Afghanistan). I’m glad to be home.”

Martin, an Elkhart Police officer, was one of 50 local Marine reservists who returned home Friday after a seventh-month deployment in Afghanistan. The Marines’ plane landed in Ohio Friday morning. After eating breakfast they boarded two charter buses that, with the aid of multiple police escorts, snaked up U.S. 33 — through Ligonier, Goshen and Elkhart — and to the Armed Forces Reserve Center Hall on Kemble Avenue in South Bend.

Company B — which includes Marine reservists from across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan — deployed last May and spent several weeks training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Marine Corps Base 29 in California before being sent to Afghanistan.

After kissing his wife again, Sgt. Martin greeted his parents, Peggy and Bruce Martin of Osceola and his grandmother, Claudia Martin.

“Welcome home, son,” Peggy said. Grandma Martin just tightly hugged her grandson, too overcome with emotion to say anything.

It was a scene repeated often during the chilly afternoon.

Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Haggerty of South Bend, knelt down beside his 5-year-old son, John Michael Haggerty. The boy was holding a sign that read “Welcome Home Daddy,” with hearts drawn on it.

“Daddy, do you like my sign?” Michael asked.

“Yes, I love your sign,” Haggerty said, with tears in his eyes and giving his son a hug.

“The hearts are for you,” Michael said, hugging his daddy in return.

A reporter asked the boy what he thought of his daddy being home and the 5-year-old gave a one-word answer, “Yea.”

Haggerty shared his sentiments about returning home to his wife, Kristen and their other son, one-and-a-half-year-old Matthew.

“It’s great, it’s just great,” Haggerty said. “The first time I deployed I didn’t have any kids. It’s a whole lot different this time with two kids. Nothing compares to being home.”

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