Marysville Reserve unit comes home | SLIDESHOW

SEATTLE — Boeing Field served as the site for multiple family reunions on the evening of Wednesday, July 25, as nearly 100 soldiers stationed in Marysville finally made their way home.

The 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command is a U.S. Army Reserve unit based out of Marysville, and its troops were mobilized for overseas service on July 28 of last year, deploying to Kuwait and Afghanistan in support of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom in September. While they returned to the United States on July 15, their unit underwent demobilization activities at Fort Bliss, Texas, until their return to the Puget Sound region.

The returning reservists were greeted by cheering relatives, waving signs and snapping shots of their loved ones while they waited for luggage to be offloaded and caught up with each other.

“These folks don’t have anything on their minds other than getting home to be with their families,” said Col. Phillip Jolly, commander of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, who’d taken part in the official opening of the Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center in the spring of this year.

Indeed, the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command managed to accomplish its mission of helping to direct the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq two weeks ahead of schedule, in spite of it being the largest logistics operation since World War II. After moving more than 1 million pieces of equipment and driving more than 4 million miles as part of that mission, those soldiers were more than ready to go their separate ways for a while to resume some semblance of civilian lives.

Sgt. Chris Bigelow of Kent laughed as he anticipated being invited to a tea party by his 3-year-old daughter Emma, while Lt. Col Susan McFarland of Maple Valley carried both a stuffed animal and her own 3-year-old daughter, Evelynne, while her other kids volunteered to shoulder her gear.

“I think we’ll just go play outside for a while,” McFarland said. “Hopefully it won’t be as hot here as it was over there. I’m just getting used to seeing trees again. I haven’t seen that in a while.”

Maj. Harry Matsumoto of Kenmore is set to experience an even more drastic change of pace with his next trip, as he heads off to Hawaii with his family to visit his father, while Chief Warrant Officer Darin Keys and his 5-year-old son Conner have made slightly less ambitious plans to share some quality time with their favorite TV shows.

While Sgt. 1st Class Eddie Buckley will likely return to duty at the Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center near the end of August, he’ll be spending his three weeks of leave in the meantime getting reacquainted with his wife Peggy and his 4-month-old daughter Olivia at their home in Everett.

“You just have to stay positive when you’re out in the field,” said Eddie Buckley, after cradling the daughter whom he’d previously held just after she was born, during a brief period of compassionate leave that he was granted in March, just prior to Peggy going into labor. “I always tell my ground soldiers to take it one day at a time.”

While Eddie had previously mobilized stateside from 2002-03, this marked his first overseas deployment after 11 years in the service. He and Peggy are looking forward to their one-year marriage anniversary in September, and while they acknowledged that their time apart has been trying, they also noted the support they’ve received in getting through it.

“It was very, very hard, but I had my family, especially my mom, by my side,” Peggy Buckley said. “My best friend was able to take me to my ultrasound.”

“Thanks to our iPhones, I got face time with her and the baby on a daily basis,” Eddie Buckley said. “It meant late nights for one or the other of us each time, but it was worth it. Life overseas is locked down. When you’re wearing your uniform in the field every day, it’s very hard. I’m just glad that I can eat good food again and not breathe in sand.”


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