Three station explosive ordinance disposal technicians returned from a seven-month Afghanistan deployment October 26.
Gunnery Sgt Matthew Bateman, Staff Sgt Joshua Laudermilk and Staff Sgt Robert Gillespie were all smiles as their families rushed to greet them, a welcome sight from the rugged terrain of Afghanistan.
“The hardest part by far is just being away from family, it’s one of those things that I don’t think you can truly ever get used to, at least, I know I have never been able to,” said Laudermilk when asked about the hardship of deployment.
Family, friends and other fellow Marines all waited anxiously for the three Marines driving back from Camp Pendleton, Calif. “Me and my daughters have been waiting for this day for seven months, it’s exciting for us because my 41 day old daughter gets to meet her father for the first time today,” said Gillespie’s wife, Christina.
Deployments are never easy, extremely dangerous and life threatening but, there is a sense of pride and commitment while on deployment.
“The best part about being deployed is being able to do your job and actually see how much you can make a difference. It’s very gratifying,” said Laudermilk.
Gillespie has been in the Marine Corps for a little over 10 years and has been on four deployments. Each time has been different with new twists and turns to navigate through.
“Each deployment has been unique in its own way whether it is the location or what my job is and what they ask of me while on the deployment. I think if I have learned anything it is to just have an open mind when going on deployment,” said Gillespie.
Bateman, Laudermilk, and Gillespie had all been looking forward to Oct. 26 for over half a year now, the day when their hard work had finally paid off.
“The first thing I plan to do when I get back home is watch the Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame football game with my wife and kids. I think doing that will give me the sense of I am finally back home,” said Gillespie.