There were persistent showers on Tuesday at Cherry Point. Never mind the rain.

There were persistent showers on Tuesday at Cherry Point. Never mind the rain.

The showers came in the form of tears as Emily Link welcomed home her boyfriend, Cpl. Zachary Sheffield, from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

“It’s been a long six months,” Link said.

She drove three hours in a heavy downpour from Durham to welcome Sheffield home. Her sign said it all: “Welcome Home Zach! Now Shut Up And Kiss Me!”

That’s exactly what he did.

“It’s fantastic. It feels great,” the hydraulic mechanic said of being home after his second deployment.

More than100 Marines and sailors from Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 arrived at Cherry Point shortly after noon on Tuesday. They pulled up to the squadron’s hangar in three buses and lined up in formation. After being dismissed, several jokingly turned their backs to the large crowd of family and friends. But, it didn’t take long for them to turn back around to be engulfed with hugs and kisses.

Cpl. Shakima Brown was showered with flowers and about 10 helium balloons.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I didn’t know my granddad and dad were coming.”

Staff Sgt. Matthew Abel embraced his wife Dionna.

“I’m very, very happy,” he said.

The deployment was his third.

“You know what to expect, but I wouldn’t say it gets any easier, especially with a 2-year-old daughter at home,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Lonnie Tucker held his 3-year-old daughter Layla in his arms and provided a birthday present for his son, Matthew, who turned 8 months old on the day his father returned home.

“It’s great to see my family again,” he said.

Cathia Duran married Cpl. Colton Duran about a month before he deployed.

“It’s been a complete mess,” she said. “You have to become two people. You have to keep up with the house and just hope he comes home safe.”

The Marine was on his second deployment, but first as a husband.

“It didn’t really affect me too much when I was single,” he said of his deployments. “But now, I felt upset because I know that she was sad and what she was going through by herself, and I just wished I could be with her.”

The new wife nearly missed the chance to welcome her husband home. She said she had been so excited for his return that she couldn’t sleep the night before. She dozed off Tuesday morning and woke up late, arriving at the hangar minutes before his arrival.

“This was not what I was planning to wear for his first homecoming,” said Duran, in a gray sweater over a white tank top. “But he doesn’t care about my clothes, and he doesn’t care about my hair, and he doesn’t care about my makeup. He just wants to hold me.”

And, that’s exactly what he did, and after six months apart, he couldn’t ask for anything better.

“Wow,” he said. “It’s unreal.”