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Toting signs, cameras and smiles, family and friends took to the street to welcome home Marines April 10 as packed buses made their way into the base on Stewart Avenue in Garden City. Flags, fire trucks and impatient loved ones saluted Freedom Fighters as they arrived last Friday night. Photo by Carlos Varon, Director of Emergency Services, American Red Cross

Marines from Headquarters & Service Company and Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, based out of Garden City returned Friday, April 10, from a seven-month deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom.

Family and friends gathered from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to welcome approximately 300 of their Marines home at the Marine Reserve Training Center in Garden City.

The American Red Cross-Nassau County chapter was there to welcome the Marines and to support the family and friends who waited for their loved ones for four hours.

In addition to giving out refreshments (coffee, hot chocolate, tea, snacks and cookies), American Red Cross volunteers gave out 150+ Mickey Mouse dolls to the kids, 150+ white Red Cross bracelets, SAF (Service to Armed Forces) brochures/flyers and preparedness guides. ARC also had two mental health counselors available to provide assistance/comfort to the families if needed.

Carlos Varon, director of emergency services for the American Red Cross, thanks fellow volunteers and staff who supported the event "in more ways than one," especially Heather See, Larry Kasten, Bruce Vesloski, John Muller, Frank Favilla, Jackie Katz and Ken English and one of ARC's newest volunteers, John Muller.

Varon said the event was of special interest to Muller as he had given a special token/good luck charm to one of the Marines who had been deployed and had asked him to bring back the charm. The Marine did come home with pendant intact and in good health.

An additional kudo to Muller, who, Varon said, went above and beyond as a volunteer when he found out that there was one Marine who did not have any means of getting back to his home in the Bronx. Muller, a former Marine himself, took the Marine back to his home in his own car.


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