Hundreds Attend Homecoming for Local Marines

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- 7:00 AM.

For most people, it's too early, but family members in a Montgomery train shed were wide awake, ready to welcome their Marines back home.

There were moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and children.

8 month old Ben Castanza probably can't remember the last time he saw his father.  Mother Danielle says the timing of her husbands seven month tour in Iraq couldn't have been worse.

"He got to be here for the delivery, and he spent about a week with us, so he hasn't seen him since," Castanza said.

As the minutes waned on, Castanza and her two children waited anxiously--along with the families of nearly 150 Marines.

Then came a long awaited moment.

Escorted by police and firefighters, three busses pulled alongside an eager crowd.

Signs out.  Emotions high.  Everyone ready for a reunion.

After a tour half a world away, the Marines are more than happy to see familiar faces.

"When we pulled up, I had butterflies," said PFC Michael Menchey.  "I could hardly stay in my seat on the bus."

It's a feeling shared by family members who waited months for this homecoming.

The support at home, Marines say, makes the moment that much more meaningful.

"It boosts the morale a lot [when] the first thing they see is their family," said GySgt Michael P. Drake.

Now, after months away from home, Staff Sergeant Sam Castanza says he's ready to join his family once again.

"It's great to be back.  I've got my daughter and my new son, so it's great to be home," he exclaimed.

Reporter:  Cody Holyoke