Florida Based Seabees Return Home

Casualties in action and crisis at home dominated the tour of duty for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14. After six months in the Iraqi war zone, those worries are over. The 170 Seabees returned home Monday to family and friends.

Battalion 14 is a reserve unit headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. Karey Edwards traveled from Tallahassee to welcome home her husband.

"We had a four month old when he left... Now he's almost 11 months old, so it's been pretty hard," Edwards said.

Some traveled far greater distances than Battalion 14's home state of Florida to be here.

Ron Hancock from Oklahoma City said, "We've been thinking about Jim an awful lot and praying for him, and we're just tickled to death he's back."

Battalion 14 members say their mission, to build housing for Iraqis and the occupying forces, as well as to train Iraqis in basic construction skills, was successfully accomplished, but not without casualties. Battalion 14 lost seven of their own to hostile action.

"It's really tough being in a reserve type unit because you've worked with these guys over, and over again, over the years. You're losing some close friends when that happens," Lt. Commander Loren Jones.

"At times it was tough with the losses of our brothers," Donnie Rumery said. "But for the most part, we took it as best we could and got the job done. I think that's what kept us all motivated at times."