There was no band. No speeches. The members of the Marine Corps Reserve unit based at Fort Lewis stepped off the bus and walked directly into the arms of their family members.
For Sgt. Arsenio Diga, that meant no wait in holding his 4-month old daughter, Jaynah, for the first time.
Diga and about 45 other Marines of the headquarters and service company of the 4th Landing Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group returned home after a seven-month deployment Thursday.
"It’s a bit overwhelming right now," said Diga, a 25-year-old Renton native.
The unit worked base security at Camp Taqaddum, near Habbaniyah, Anbar Province.
"It was a great experience, but I’m glad to be back," Cpl. Dong Yoo said. "When I was there, it seemed like it went by slow. Now it seems like it went by fast."
A projection screen cycled through photos from the deployment, and families were waiting with signs and balloons. But the homecoming ceremony was different than most at Fort Lewis.
Many Army units are greeted with a band. They often enter the site of the ceremony by marching in formation. High-ranking officials speak to the soldiers before they’re dismissed and allowed to greet their families.
Not so Thursday. The Marines arrived on a gray bus, which pulled up next to a large, open service door of the Marine Home Site Training Center. Most wore jeans and T-shirts.
Members of the battalion deploy every six month, but each time it’s a varying number of soldiers serving as part of a detachment, said battalion executive officer Capt. Craig Chester. He estimates Fort Lewis-based Marines have deployed about four times.
"The command says they need X amount of Marines, and we send it to them," he said. "The rest of the guys stay back."
Fort Lewis is home to two companies – about 300 people – of Marine reservists. Another 40 are active-duty, tasked with activate and train the reservists.
Chester acknowledges few people actually realize Marines are stationed on the Army post. And, he added, their tan uniforms have a tendency to stand out.
"Sometimes we’ll go to the PX and someone will ask us if we’re from a foreign military or something," Chester said. "Nope, I tell them, we’re Marines. We’re right here in your back yard.
"But," he added with a smile, "that’s not necessarily a bad thing."