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VMGR-452 "Yankees" return home from Iraq

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200532133947
Story by Sgt. Beth Zimmerman

NEW YORK (March 2, 2005) -- When Lance Cpl. Joel Pasqualino, Marine Aeriel Refueler Squadron 452, Newburgh, left for Iraq last year, his family waved him farewell under the hot sun on a steamy morning in August. When he returned, his family welcomed him home in the midst of hugs, kisses, and a snow flurry.

The Marines of VMGR-452 returned from Iraq Feb. 25. For many of them, it was their second homecoming during the war on terror.

"Now that the day is here and we're looking back, it doesn't seem like that long," said Elise Pasqualino on her son's return from war. "But a couple of months ago, looking forward, [his return date] seemed like forever."

"For about seventy percent of [the Marines who returned], this was their second time deploying," said Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Dixon, Marine Aircraft Group 49, B Detachment sergeant major. "They were more focused," he said. "Things were more intense this go-round."

VMGR-452 maintains and flies KC-130T Hercules aircraft, which the Corps uses for aerial refueling and transportation. In addition to refueling, the Marines also played a role in Iraqi history.

"During the Iraqi elections, we ferried [more than 3,000] Iraqi nationals back and forth to vote," said Sgt. John Sabarese, a powerlines and flight mechanic with VMGR-452 who returned from his second deployment. "You heard about the blue ink on the finger," he said. "Well, we saw all of that. They were so happy to be voting," said Sabarese. "We hung a sign inside the aircraft that said 'congratulations to the world's newest democracy' in Arabic."

Because the Marines kept busy, the deployment was over before they knew it.

"It went by really fast," said Cpl. Thomas Dorozynski, a reservist from Frankfort and an electrician for the squadron. "...Especially after New Year's. We knew we were going home soon."

Friends and families traveled from all over New York to welcome the Marines home.

"We were the first ones in the hangar at like 9 o'clock this morning," said Dorozynski's father, Stan Dorozynski. "They told us we were a bit early," he said with a chuckle. "We said, 'we know,' we were just excited."

The excitement increased throughout the day as the families waited for the Marines' highly anticipated arrival. As the four KC-130s landed and taxied down the runway, emotions ran high for returning Marines and their families.

"It was a very emotional moment," said Peter Pasqualino. "There was such a real feeling of pride," said his wife Elise.

"As soon as I came around the plane, I could see my wife and daughter," said Sabarese. "It was great," he said. Sabarese's 3-year-old daughter, Faith, ran to him with outstretched arms as he walked from the plane to the hangar.

"Last time, she was two, and she kind of huddled around her mother," said Sabarese. "This time she knew who I was and ran straight toward me."

"They've done such a great job," said Elise. "We're all part of these historic events."

New York Governor George Pataki welcomed the squadron home with a letter. "The people of New York salute the Marines of [VMGR-452]," Pataki wrote. "Your courage and sacrifice not only helped secure this historic triumph of freedom, but helped make the world a safer place."

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