VIENNA -- Ten U.S. Marines returned over the weekend from a deployment in Afghanistan, just in time to spend the holidays with their family and friends.
"She still thinks Santa brought home daddy early," Cpl. Jared Smith said of his 2-year-old daughter.
He and the other Marines were waiting at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station on Wednesday to be cleared for release in the next few days.
Cpl. Jessica Wolfe of Boardman holds onto her nephew, Joey Wollet, while her mother Linda Tarica, left, and sister Stacey Wollet, right, give her a long embrace. Ten U.S. Marines returned home over the weekend and were taken to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna to be cleared for release.
"We'll make sure they are mentally and medically ready before they go back into the civilian community," said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Hudson, weekday commanding officer.
Hudson expressed his pride in the nine men and one woman who voluntarily went to Afghanistan during a time of war. While deployed for seven months, they were attached to the Redeployment and Retrograde in Support of Reset and Reconstitution Operations Group, based out of Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province.
Smith, 24, of Canton, said he went to Afghanistan with no expectations.
"It's almost like having a regular job, only with more gear," he said.
Smith was in charge of $250,000 worth of pressure washers used to clean military equipment before it was to be returned to the States. He said he doesn't have a job lined up yet but will spend his time with his wife and daughter.
Cpl. Jessica Wolfe of Boardman said she always knew she would join the Marines, but went to college for 2 1/2 years before finally enlisting. The seven-month tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom was her first deployment.
"It took a while to get climatized to it. You don't really know what to expect when you go," she said. "It really was a good experience."
Wolfe said they worked nonstop while in Afghanistan, but that the locals were very willing to help with the efforts, something that she hadn't expected.
Arriving home over the weekend at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, where they were hosted by the USO, she was greeted by her mother, sister and nephew. With Facebook and other social media, she was able to stay in touch with family and friends while away.
Now that she's back, Wolfe said she will be picking up her schooling, studying criminology and sociology at Cleveland State University. Wolfe said the stint gave her "mental toughness" that will come in handy as she looks for a federal job.
In the meantime, she said she will be enjoying a large Christmas Eve feast and tackling finding the perfect gift for her nephew.
Walking on carpet, not having to wear flip-flops in the shower and enjoying "real food" were among the pleasures of being home the Marines listed.
"We're here safe and sound," Wolfe said. "I couldn't ask for more."