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Families Get Ready for Marines' Return

By: Mike Johnson
By: Mike Johnson

This is an anxious time for many military families in southern Wisconsin. Nine-hundred Marines are returning from Iraq in the next few weeks, including nearly 200 from Madison-based Golf Company.

The waiting that started last summer is almost over.

Turn back the clock to last June, the Marines of Madison's Golf Company were saying good-bye. They were on their way to California for training, and then Iraq.

There were tears, and hugs then. Expect more of the same when they come back.

"I'm waiting for that big hug where he just picks me up off my feet and spins me around," says Barbara Wentworth, a Marine's mother.

While she waits, Wentworth is making 25 huge apple pies for the homecoming -- which happens to be her son's favorite.

For the last seven months, it was dangerous work in a part of Iraq known as the "Triangle of Death."

"Upon their deployment to Iraq they found themselves in the Magadia area, triangle of death, and basically were doing patrols and fighting off insurgents in the area," says Gunnery Sgt. Mike Reiland.

The joy of reunion will be tempered by the knowledge that four members of the company died in Iraq. Shane O'Donnell of De Forest, Ryan Cantafio of Beaver Dam, Robert Warns Waukesha, and Brandon Ramey of Belvidere, Illinois.

"The jubilation that we have for all of them coming home we always will be remembering those who aren't coming home because they were part of us," says Wentworth.

Lance Corporal Michael Skaar was wounded and came home in December. He's been thinking about his buddies every day.

"Just wishing I knew what was going on knowing that they're safe because reality its not safe over there," says Skaar.

And the waiting continues for just a few more days. "When I know I've got the phone call that says they're in the air out of that area, then I'll be really sleeping very well," Skaar adds.

So what's it like to become a Marine? Find out Tuesday night at seven, as Zac Schultz and Jason Rice take you to Marine Corp Recruit training in San Diego. "Semper Fi in the 21st Century" Tuesday night at seven here on NBC 15.


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