MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
MCLC welcomes Marines home
Families rushed their Marines the minute they stepped out of the two vans that brought them home to the “Good Life City” after more than six months in Afghanistan.
Fellow Marines, Civilian-Marines and contractors also hugged and shook hands with the six Marines in front of Building 3700, Friday.
Capt. Billy Kelley Jr., Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Sutton, Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Mercier, Staff Sgt. James Plaster Jr., Sgt. Kendra Gutknecht and Sgt. Marshand Vasquez, served with Marine Corps Logistics Command (Forward) at Camps Leatherneck and Dwyer, according to Maj. Michael Mullins, commanding officer, Headquarters Company East, Marine Corps Logistics Command.
“The Marine Corps Logistics Command (Forward) is heavily involved in the retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan, obviously involved as a collection point for the operating forces’ equipment,” he said. “These Marines have been essential in the reception, preparation and distribution, i.e. redeployment of the equipment back to the United States and most of the equipment reset either at field-level or depot-level maintenance, which ensures the Marine Corps is ready for any future contingency.
“The six Marines have done a tremendous job and their families have missed them as have all of us back here,” Mullins added. “We’re out here today to receive them, shake their hands for a job well done and give them thanks for their hard work and dedication.”
Sutton described the mission in Afghanistan as different. It was his fifth deployment, but his first to that country. He’s served in Iraq, in the Pacific and with Marine Expeditionary Units.
“What we are doing over there with Marine Corps Logistics Command (Forward) is just vital to what’s going on for the retrograde efforts and for the sustainment of the warfighter out there working on a lot of different kinds of equipment and projects,” he said. “(We were) moving at 100 miles an hour, working long hours, but it’s a great mission and the great thing about this mission is you see the results of it right away in the retrograde efforts and in the sustainment piece.”
Sutton’s family, wife, Jennifer; and sons, Gabriel and Daniel, 11, crowded around and hugged him tightly. Sutton noted his two sons grew about a foot while he was gone.
“I can’t even put it into words, but it’s just really wonderful to have him home and be able to share our time together as a family again and have him home for football games and cross country meets and stuff,” Jennifer said.
Gabriel said it was great to have his dad back.
“We missed him and we love him and it’s great to see him come home,” the 14-year-old said.
“Six months is a really long time,” Gabriel’s 11-year-old brother, Daniel said. “I’m so happy that he’s back.”
Fellow Marine Vasquez said he assisted with the retrograding of all kinds of equipment and gear for MCLC (Forward) deployment. His third deployment of his Marine Corps career and his first to Afghanistan, he also served two deployments in Iraq.
“I’m super excited,” Vasquez said. “I’m glad to be home (with) my wife and kids.”
Vasquez’ family, wife, Ashley; son, Derek, 2; and daughters, Mary Jane, 10, and Deliz, 1; waved American flags as the vans bringing the Marines back home rolled up in front of MCLC’s headquarters.
His family was equally excited they said that he was home.
“I’m excited, nervous (and) happy,” Ashley said. “I want to cry but I’m holding it in.”
“I’m happy because he’s home,” Mary Jane said.
A Marine for six years, Gutknecht served her first deployment in Afghanistan.
“(I) learned a lot - how to work with civilians and higher ups, to be able to actually get things functioning and how to have two different staff billets and keep up with them: motor transport staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge and motor transport subject matter expert,” the 24-year-old said. “It was very interesting. There were a lot of moving parts, a lot of hands in different places. We actually got to see how much they do out there and the little part we do to bring everything together to send it (the equipment) home.”