Civilian Marines return home from Iraq - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Civilian Marines return home from Iraq

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

July 29, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - While members of the military fight the war in Iraq, South Georgia civilians volunteer their time to protect them.

Since last year, mechanics and welders from the Marine Corps Logistics Base have willingly given up months of their time here at home. Their main goal is to save lives overseas.

Family and friends welcomed several of those men home Tuesday afternoon.

It's a reunion more than 180 days in the making. "It's kind of nervous a little bit," said Henry Davis.

"I'm excited," said Terrie Powell.

It's excitement now for Terrie Powell but she wasn't excited or surprised when her husband Donald told her he'd volunteered to go to Iraq. He's a military man.

"So they never get it out of their system. Once they go in, they're in for life," said Powell. But it feels like a lifetime since he left six months ago and Powell has plans.

"Just hold him. Just hold him. I'm glad he's home," said Powell.

By 5:30 p.m., the wait was over. Civilian Marines from the Marine Corps Logistics Base entered the airport to cheers, claps, hugs and kisses. Workers say it's a good feeling.

"It was just unexplainable to feel the warmth of your family after you've been away," said Donald Powell.

"Overwhelmed. Glad to be back home," said Christopher Davis.

Their goal in Iraq is to protect the military but although they're back home now, their mission and job continues. "We're rebuilding humvees and a lot of those are armored vehicles," said Dan Nash with MCLB.

While in Iraq, the civilian Marines repaired Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.  Here at home, work is not done. They completely strip military vehicles down to their frames then rebuild and restore them for use in Iraq.

"It's saving lives," said Christopher Davis.

They're saving lives from both here and there. Just like Donald Powell's wife told us first, 30 years in the Navy was his motivation to do it.

"It's like I said from day one. If I couldn't be on the front line, at least I could be behind the line doing something," said Powell.

It's proof that when it comes to safety, the job is never done.