No homecoming aboard Camp Lejeune is "routine," Monday's homecoming has a very special significance as troops begin pulling out of Iraq.
Troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force returning Monday mark the beginning of the end of the Marine Corps's role in Iraq. The return of the 2nd MEF is the first major wave of American forces to leave Iraq as part of the withdrawal to be complete by the end of next year. At it's peak, more than 25,000 Marines served in Iraq's Al Anbar Province.
After Monday, the only Marine forces remaining in Iraq will be a small logistical element to help complete the turnover, and a brigade from the U.S. Army.