JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune that assisted in the Afghanistan evacuation will be returning this week to base.
The Onslow County government is encouraging residents to put up yellow ribbons to welcome the Marines and sailors home. Yellow ribbons and welcome home signs will be placed along Freedom Way to memorialize the pathway so many Marine units take deploying from Camp Lejeune.
“We just want to make sure they know that we care very much about them and the sacrifices that they make,” said Onslow County Manager Sharon Russell.
Yellow ribbons symbolize welcoming home the service members and letting them know that the community honors them and the service they gave to our nation. Members of the unit were called into Afghanistan to help with the evacuation.
“They were the unit that was at the Kabul airport at the time of the explosion,” said Russell.
One well-known member of the unit, Sgt Nicole Gee, lost her life in the bombing that also killed 12 other service members. Some members of the unit are still recovering from injuries sustained in the bombing.
“We are holding them close in our thoughts and in our minds while they are away and as a sign to welcome them back home to their community,” said Onslow County Health Director Kristen Richmond-Hoover.
Retired Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Raquel Painter says she thinks it’s a wonderful thing what the county is doing to welcome home the troops. She said when you are coming back from deployment and see the ribbons and welcome home signs, it all becomes a reality.
“It’s kind of surreal until you actually see that knowing that they’re going to be through those date dates and get to see your family,” said Painter.
The county reminds citizens not to place the items in a place that will obstruct traffic or on private property. The unit will start coming back to the area Tuesday.