Jacksonville - It's sure to be a happy holiday season for military families this December. Approximately 1200 marines and sailors of the 2300 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) returned to Eastern North Carolina Sunday.
They are the first ship of three to come back on the smallest fleet , the USS Gunston Hall.
The men and women completed nearly nine months deployment as an expeditionary crisis response .
The unit was supposed to come home in November, A colonel with the 24th MEU told us the extension was due to tensions in the Mediterranean.
During the time,The 24th MEU and IWO ARG were directed to stay in theater until otherwise directed, delaying the 24th MEU's and IWO ARG's return to their home bases at Camp Lejeune and Norfolk, Va. Their regularly scheduled deployment started in March.
The 24th MEU consists of 2,300 Marines and Sailors embarked across the three amphibious assault ships of the IWO ARG - USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and USS New York (LPD 21).
The rest of the unit are expected to return over the next two days.