Marines Get Last Visit Home Before Leaving For Iraq

July 28, 2007 - Posted at 4:55 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-Saturday at the Jonesboro Municipal Airport, families awaited the arrival six U.S. Marines leaving for Iraq in just a few weeks.

"I was excited. I thought about pushing his wife over so I could get there first."

Mona Clayton was just one mother who was greeted by the arrival of her son.

"This is going to be the last time we get to see them. We just have to send our prayers and trust that God's going to take them over and bring them back," said Clayton.

"Since I've been a kid, I've wanted to be in the Military and do what I could for my country. It's my time to go."

But Clayton's son, Eddie Sandefur, is happy to see his family before he goes.

"I've been looking forward to it for a while. When you spend time away, all you see is your brothers. You want to come home and spend time with the people you love for a little bit before you go back out," said Sandefur.

His father, Johnny Clayton, says, he's going to make the most of the visit.

"I'm going to spend as much time as I can with him, and just let him know I'm behind him, no matter what he decides to do," said Clayton.

For one Marine, Saturday was more than a welcome home. It was also his first look at his newborn nephew.

"I don't hold babies everyday, so I was afraid I was going to drop him. You know, I kind of got a little emotional, but I held it in. I'm a man, " laughed Jimmy Lee Hood.

While this group of Marines may be boarding another plane in less than a week, they say the time they are spending with their families now is time that can't be forgotten.

"One of the most important things is, every moment you spend with your family, make the best of it and have fun at it," said Sandefur.

But after the fun comes a mission, one that these soldiers feel is making a difference.

"Normally, you are all full combat load when you go out, now they are just going out and talking to the people. It's totally calmed down in that area. So yeah, I think we are making a huge impact over there," said Hood.

While they are making their impact, their families are simply holding on.

"It's terrifying to send your child, and I just want everybody to know, that every soldier over there is somebody's baby," said Clayton.

The six Marines boarded the 2 hour and 45 minute flight from Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.

Pilots Ed DuBar and George Stem flew the aircraft.

Dubar told K8 news, "When everybody saw the need, there was immediately no discussion.  They all said, sure...we are glad to help."

The pilots were given a plaque and a signed bandana from all of the Marines as a token of appreciation.

We are told the group will stay in Iraq for about 7 months.  They are part of the Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment based in Memphis.

*Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at