STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV)-- The Marine who organized this celebration lives in the Valley.
After the Battle of Fallujah, Chad Ellinger came home with serious injuries. But the point of the reunion was not to reflect on battle scars, but instead to be thankful for the chance to see each other again and enjoy their freedom they have now, and have helped others get.
"Some of these people I haven't seen since the battlefield, I literally left the battlefield and they pressed on through the city," said Ellinger.
Ellinger talked with his fellow Marines in Staunton during the reunion. As it started to rain, they set up a tent and looked through old photographs during their tour of duty together.
"Time has a way of, healing," said Marine Mike Detmer.
The rain is nothing compared to Iraq. About 95 American troops were killed in the Battle of Fallujah; with hundreds of others wounded. The battle was an effort to bring peace to citizens, some of whom were starving.
"She wanted to eat the label off the bottle, and to see that firsthand, that just complete desolation," said Ellinger, referring to a starving child.
Ellinger was injured when a 12 foot high wall fell on him. He had a shattered pelvis, arm, injuries to fingers, legs, and his knee.
"From perfect health to being completely dependent on individuals to feed, bathe me all those different types of components of daily life that we take for granted. It was a shell shock, it was difficult," said Ellinger.
"Some of us came back with physical burdens that we'll have to bear for the rest of our lives, and some of us didn't come back, and their families will have to carry that burden," said Detmer.
There are new additions to families, and kids intermingled with old memories together as friend; despite battle scars.
"I don't think that we really want to be viewed as victims. You know, we volunteered, it's an all-volunteer force," said Detmer.
It's a weekend to pick back up where they left off, while still remembering how they served this country.
With less than two weeks of planning, families came from all over for the reunion. Some came from as far away as Florida and California.
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