Two Michiana families waited for Feb. 8 for months. On Wednesday, they welcomed home a pair of young Marines from Afghanistan.
Corporals Brandon Evans and Alexis Arroyo were greeted by dozens of family members, friends and strangers at the South Bend Airport Wednesday night.
“It’s just great to be home,” Arroyo said. “I haven’t been home in a little bit.”
Arroyo was in Afghanistan for four months; he got the call last minute to head overseas and take the place of a comrade. He’d been overseas with the Marines before and didn’t hesitate when he got the call.
“I did it for the experience really,” he said. “It was something I always was told was tough to do and I wanted to see if I could get through it.”
Arroyo’s family anxiously awaited his arrival at the airport Wednesday. When he walked through the gates, his mother started to cry and his 4-year-old nephew ran into his arms.
“Even though we’ve been here before, it’s the same butterflies,” said his older brother, Juan Arroyo. “Just happy to see him.”
And his brother wasn’t the only one. Several strangers who were waiting for their family members to get off the plane walked up to the men and thanked them for their service. Half a dozen members of the Michiana Marine Riders proudly shook Evans’ and Arroyo’s hands, giving them the occasional slap on the back.
“It's always good to see a brother marine return home to his family,” said Michiana Marine Riders Vice President Brian Balog. “One of the Marines, Brandon, we had sent a care package to and several of us know his mother so it was neat to see that reunion.”
Neither Arroyo nor Evans wanted much fanfare at the airport, so their families didn’t wave signs or flags. Instead, they showered the men with kisses, hugs and love.
“It’s a great feeling knowing people appreciate it and you’re not going unnoticed and you really care,” Arroyo said.
Both men say they’re looking forward to spending as much time as possible with their families over the next few months. They don’t have any special plans, but are looking forward to some home-cooked meals.
They both expect to go back overseas again by the end of the year.