(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Last December, Marine Sgt. Ken Pompili was eagerly awaiting the birth of his daughter, Rylie, watching his wife's every move, every labor pain and every push from an armored vehicle 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.
Pompili was witnessing the birth through a Skype connection, surrounded by his Marine unit from Lima Company.
"She sounds like she's in a lot of pain," he said, watching. "I don't like hearing her upset or in pain. It's hard for me to be here and not be able to be there for her and comfort her when I need to be."
Thursday, Pompili and the 178 other Marines in Lima Company were able to be there for their loved ones, finally returning home to Columbus, Ohio.
Pompili met his little girl for the first time, holding the tiny hand of a little lady dressed in a shirt reading, "Get out of my way I'm here to pick up my daddy!"
For the Marines of Lima Company, homecomings come with a deep appreciation. Their unit was the hardest hit in the Iraq War. In 2005, they lost 23 men, and more than 40 were wounded.
In Afghanistan they were deployed to Helmand Province -- a Taliban stronghold -- leaving their families behind.
Their stories of hope and loss offer a picture of the war one rarely sees.
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