Happy to be home: 40 Marines celebrate after 1 year in Iraq

Reported by Shelley Brown

Posted by Kate Oatis email

NORTHWEST OHIO (WTOL) - A group of Marines from northwest Ohio had one happy homecoming Thursday night, one year after they deployed to Iraq.

Forty Marines from 1st Battalion 24th Regiment Weapons Company pulled in to their training center in Perrysburg to the loud cheers of family and friends.

"It's a great feeling. I'm ecstatic to be home," said Lance Corporal Derek Molina of Swanton, thrilled to see his baby daughter for the first time. Just weeks after he deployed for Iraq, his wife Denise delivered Kaidence, now 6 months old.

"I mean after so long. All I could do was hear her on the phone. Now I can see her. So it's a good thing," Molina said.

Corporal Andrew Behnfeldt of Holgate was also ecstatic, as was his nephew, who didn't want to let him go.

Behnfeldt's mother says this week has been an emotional rollercoaster.

"I was so excited for Andy coming home but yet I knew that Matt his brother was leaving so it's been tough," said Sandy Sonnenberg. Matt deployed on Wednesday.

For months, the men were stationed in the Al Anbar province, working with the Iraqi army and police. For them, the feeling of being back home is hard to describe, but they said they're looking forward to some very basic things, one of which is a good meal.

"My mom's making enchiladas tonight," Molina said.