Marines return home; Months-long deployment in Afghanistan complete

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter is proud to be apart of this amazing homecoming in providing food, beverages, games for the children and comfort for the many famlies waiting for their loved ones to return home. Thank you to all the Red Cross volunteers for your support at this event.

Click on the photo to see Fox 11 WLUK News Coverage of this story.

ASHWAUBENON – Strong winds delayed homecoming plans for some northeast Wisconsin Marines, but all who were expected arrived safely at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Ashwaubenon by 9 o’clock Wednesday evening.

No matter what the situation, people generally don’t like to wait.

“I’m antsy, having trouble breathing,” Kathy Willes said as she waited for her daughter.

Lance Cpl. Ashley Willes, 21, left with her Marine Reserve Unit in January, and spent about seven months in Afghanistan.

Smiles were on many faces, mixed with tears, as the Marine Reservists received a warm welcome home.

“Overwhelmed, just so glad to have her home,” Kathy said after giving her daughter a long hug.

“Just pure joy right now. Very overwhelmed with everything,” Lance Cpl. Willes, of Little Chute, said after greeting all her family members.

Willes is back from her first deployment, and looking forward to spending time with her family.

“Was a little rough. Some days seemed pretty long. But overall it went by pretty fast, but we’re all glad to be home,” said Willes.

“It’s great. It’s great. It was a long journey home. It took us about 2 weeks to get from where we were to here we are now,” said Staff Sgt. Dennis VanHemelryk of Suamico.

Here and now the waiting is over for these Marines and their families, and many of them wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Very proud, always,” Kathy Willes said of her daughter.

A total of 45 Marines were deployed. Many of them will be on orders through the end of the year.