Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- During Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 in January 2003, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, provided timely and accurate fires that were crucial in allowing I Marine Expeditionary Force to progress deep into Iraqi territory and bring down Saddam Hussein’s Regime in 21 days of major combat operations. Right after the fall of Baghdad, the battalion took up the mission of a provisional infantry battalion and assisted in civil and military duties as well as conducting Security and Stability Operation patrols in the capital city, securing hospitals and other important infrastructure. Though that fight took place more than two years ago, elements of 3/11 continue the fight in 2005. Mike Battery conducted their mission in serving as a military police force in OIF 3. The battery was broken down into platoon-sized units and dispatched throughout the country this year. After seven demanding months of executing their mission, Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, returned to the Combat Center to reunite with their families and friends during a homecoming ceremony at the Combat Center’s Victory Field Oct. 6. The event raised emotions of family members and friends who yearned for their loved ones’ safe return from harms way in the Middle East. The battery returned home with their heads held high, their chests out and their heels driving to the ground, causing a ground-shaking sound of base as they marched onto Victory Field. The ambiance of the high-powered and hard-charging formation of OIF veterans exhilarated the families and friends who were waiting to embrace their long-time missed family members. Lieutenant Colonel Douglas H. Fairfield, commanding officer of 3/11, passed on the command to dismiss the battery. Immediately following the command, the Marines and Sailors united with their families and friends in a frenzy of salutations. For people like Melissa Turk, the event overwhelmed her with happiness to see her boyfriend, Sgt. Chad C. Pohlmann, artilleryman, come home safe, but at the same time, was familiar with the moment. “I grew up in a military family,” said Turk. “I have seen many Marines go to war and come back safe. This time it struck me a bit harder, though, because I know there has been a lot of tragic incidents in Iraq.” Like most Marines and Sailors who are deployed to Iraq, Pohlmann was able to comfort his family and his girlfriend by sending home mail, e-mail and making phone calls. “Every single time I heard his voice I felt a sense of relief,” said Turk. “But in the back of my mind I knew he wasn’t telling me everything that was going on.” Moments away from the arrival of the battery, Turk reminisced about the day he left. “I had already missed him before he deployed,” she said. “But now the day is here and I am still in denial that I will see him and be able to physically talk to him. I’m relieved and proud. He fought for a good cause. The main reason he deployed was because he didn’t want his buddy to deploy for his first time alone. Technically, his time in the Marine Corps is up. He went to fight by his friend’s side.” A first time deployment for Cpl. Justin L. Muntean, artilleryman, left his family and girlfriend in a state of uncertainty. “I had no idea what to expect when the day came for him to deploy,” said Muntean’s girlfriend, Kim Wallace. “I spent days wondering what was going on out there. I had restless nights of wishing I could know what [OIF] was like for a Marine like [Muntean]. But now that he is home and safe, I don’t want to think about that at all. I just want to spend time with him and his family. His friends and I will celebrate his successful return by giving him a great time at home.” The evening was filled with excitement for some Marines like Cpl. Brian S. Jessup, ammunition technician, when he held his newborn son, Beau Bradley, in his arms for the first time. “This moment is unbelievable,” said Jessup. “I longed for the day to physically hold my son the moment he was born three weeks ago.” “I am speechless right now,” expressed Jessup’s wife, Sheena. “I’m so excited beyond words. This moment feels great. [Jessup] is home with his family now and there’s nothing else like it.” After seven months of restless nights for the Marines and Sailors who were securing and stabilizing a threatening province, and seven months of restless nights for their family members who were concerned with their safety, the anxiety came to an end during the homecoming event. When the “cannon cockers” strutted onto Victory Field, their triumphant return created a moment none of their families and friends will forget.