Lubbock Marines Celebrate Homecoming - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/19/05

Lubbock Marines Celebrate Homecoming

Over the last two weeks, 18 Marines have arrived in Lubbock after serving in Iraq. On Saturday, the second anniversary of the start of the war, the Marines gathered together for a homecoming celebration.

"At our camp on certain occasions we got to eat crab, lobster and steak," said Lance Corporal Dustin Craig.

Saturday, he and 17 of his fellow Marines ate fried chicken. It is a meal they've been looking forward to, not for the food but for the people.

"We are trying to reunite with our families in the unit," said Corporal Andrew Banda.

After serving the last six months in Iraq, Lubbock Marines have a new mission - becoming civilians. For Corporal Banda, that means getting an education.

"I'm trying to get back into school and then try to fix myself up with a part time job," remarked Banda.

Adjusting to civilian life allows the Marines to trade in their BDU's for blue jeans, but no matter what they wear on the outside, they can't camouflage what's on the inside - memories of war.

"Our base was bombed," said Banda.

"We captured three counter terrorists," said Craig.

For many of the Marines in this unit, this was their second tour of duty in Iraq.

"The luxuries were a lot better but this time it was a little more violent than it was the first time," said Banda.

The Marines were also faced with a new set of challenges in Iraq.

"They were going to introduce Democracy to the country so that was one big change out there," said Banda.

"We're dealing with counter terrorism and they are starting to use more techniques to attack us out there." said Craig.

That's what Corporal Banda's family said they worried about the most.

"It was kind of nerve wracking. Everyday you would worry if he was ok and when you wouldn't hear from him is when you would really worry," said Banda's sister, Amy.

But today, Amy Banda has her brother by her side. Now a veteran of war, he is now learning to survive life in the civilian world.

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