San Diego Military Homecoming | Camp Pendleton Photographer
This Marine Corps homecoming aboard Camp Pendleton was one of the most emotional ones I've had the honor of photographing.
There is no such thing as an easy deployment. They're all marked by things lost, things missed, things forgotten. Maybe your youngest child - just three months old when you left - learns to walk in that span of time, or you endure a personal tragedy, or you're raising two kids - and a dog! - under four, or you're simply living through a pandemic. The moment your partner says, "here's the date," it's like a tidal wave of relief hits. You can't believe it's all about to be over.
You roll up to the parade deck or ship or parking lot or flight line, dressed to the nines with hair and makeup on point (and let's be real: because this is the Marine Corps, there's a lot of "hurry up and wait."), extended family and dog in tow.
He texts, "we're at the armory. We're almost there. We're on our way." Until finally, you see the formation approach: a large group of Marines in their deserts approach. The goosebumps come. The formation grows closer. You grab the kids and go.
That first moment when you connect at a homecoming, when you see your loved one, when the nerves have built and built and now, you can see them and holy crap, you can’t help but run, that is the best moment. It’s a culmination of the last six, or eight, or 10 months, everything you’ve been through, coming to a head. It’s pure unadulterated joy.