There’s a welcome-home celebration today (Thursday) at the state fairgrounds, for a troop of Marines who returned home last week. Major Jim Leach explains the first ceremony for this unit was already held last week, but the public couldn’t attend.They’ve been fighting in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle for seven months, gone from Iowa for the last ten months, so a lot of folks wanted to have a reunion as soon as they could with “their marine.” There just wasn’t room to let them do that and at the same time have a big public celebration. So the Marine Reserve scheduled two events, the family welcome on April 7 and the second this Thursday. The public homecoming will be at the Seven Flags Events Center in Clive, at Hickman and 100th in Des Moines. It’ll open about 3 P.M. and go into the evening hours. The Major says there’ll be live entertainment, food, a cash bar, and the opportunity for anyone who wants to go thank a Marine for their service. This is the first central Iowa Marine unit to return from active duty. Major Leach explains there aren’t many stationed in the Midwest, so far from any oceans. The Marine Corps doesn’t have a large presence in Iowa, just two reserve units — Echo Company in Des Moines and Charlie Battery, an artillery unit, out of Waterloo. There hadn’t been any Marines from Iowa activated until Echo Company went, and now he says Charlie Company is apparently close to going on active duty.
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