Marines, sailors return to San Diego after 8-month deployment

CAMP PENDLETON - More than a thousand Marines and sailors returned to San Diego Monday after an eight-month deployment.

10News was there for the emotional hugs and kisses before the Marines departed in September.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit left aboard the ships of Amphibious Squadron Three and served in the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The unit is comprised of three ships; the USS Green Bay, USS Rushmore and USS Peleliu. They first headed for the Middle East where they projected power, provided security and worked to strengthen partnerships. The Marines and sailors stopped in a number of places like Oman, and recently Hong Kong.

The unit conducted several security cooperation exercises in the Western Pacific and Middle East. This includes a bilateral training in Dijibouti, Africa.

In the crowd of loved ones was 10News reporter Hannah Mullins, on the other side of the microphone, with her pilot boyfriend home at last.

"It's great, took long enough," said Mullins with a big smile.

The 15th MEU Helicopter Squadron clocked more than 18,000 flight hours on the deployment.  

The homecoming also marks an end to an era and turning point for Marine aviation. The aircraft known as the Sea Knight will retire and be replaced by the more efficient V-22 Osprey.  

The Sea Knight served the U.S. for 45 years carrying troops, supplies and equipment.  

At the end of April, an aircraft on board the Peleliu worked with the Coast Guard to rescue a man who had gone overboard a sailboat near Oahu and a woman who remained in the boat, but did not know how to operate it.

While in Hawaii, a number of families boarded the ships as part of the "Tiger Cruise" in which they headed for home with the military members.

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