MOLINE – Rock Island mother Roxanne Keegan welcomed her 22 year-old son home from war at the Quad City International Airport Friday night.
Her son is U.S. Marine Cpl. Ron Whittington, a man who’d been in Afghanistan since January. Whittington came home on Delta Flight 5192 which came in around 5:49 p.m.
The U.S. deployed him right after Christmas in 2011 with 19 other Marines. That was the last time that Whittington had seen his family.
“They all came out and left some of their immediate families to come see me and send me off,” Whittington recalls of his family. “Now they’re back here welcoming me home with the same group.”
Since then, four of those 19 Marines have been killed in combat. The Marines held the funerals for the soldiers Thursday, right before the 16 others left for their families. That made the situation bitter-sweet for Keegan, who had tears coming down her face Friday night.
“I’m just really glad he’s home safe,” Keegan. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for since he was gone.”
Keegan was able to talk to her son about once a week while he was in Afghanistan. Whittington will only be in town for a month before he has to go back to North Carolina. There, he’ll decide whether to continue in active duty or go to the reserves for the year.