MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- On a seemingly average Saturday morning, nine Marines set foot on American soil and closed a chapter in Marine Corps history.
The pre-dawn arrival of a single C-5 Galaxy at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., marked the end of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s support of Operation Enduring Freedom and delivered the Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 home to their families Dec. 6.
According to Sgt. Ross P. Hodish, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and the embarkation chief for HMLA-467 while deployed, the Marines spent more than seven months at Camps Leatherneck and Bastion in Helmand Province.
Since November 2008, Marines called Leatherneck and Bastion home, but with the final combat troops departing Helmand province, it was up to the few Marines who remained to hand the camps over to the Afghan National Army.
While United States ground forces trained the Afghans, HMLA-467 took pride in being their eyes in the sky, according to Sgt. Jeremiah P. Hammond, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, and a UH-1Y Venom crew chief with the squadron.
“Our job while out there was to support the ground troops still operating in the area,” said Hammond. “Our missions covered everything from patrolling the immediate areas around the base to providing armed escorts for convoys.”
Along with providing close air support, the main mission for the Marines was to ensure the functionality of 14 aircraft before returning to the states, according to Hodish.
“As soon as we landed there, we went to work getting ‘eye’s on’ everything that needed to come back, then started the prep for retrograde,” said Hodish.
For most of the Marines, return home was their favorite part of the entire deployment.
“It feels outstanding to be back,” said Hodish. “I cannot wait to just have the opportunity to relax and see my family again.”