Thursday marked a special Thanksgiving for Lisa McArdle-Abinette of Calverton.
It was the day her son, Corporal Matthew McArdle of the U.S. Marine Corps, came home after four years stationed at Kanohoe Bay in Hawaii — and two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
With him was his wife of two years, U.S. Army Specialist Skye McArdle, whom he met with while stationed in Hawaii, their 3-month-old daughter, Hailey, as well as Ms. McArdle’s 4-year-old son, Bubba.
“I’m so excited,” Ms. McArdle-Abinette said. “It’s been four long years.
They could have just picked them up at the airport to come home, but the Bellport-based Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club made sure the reunion was much more than that.
The group organized a motorcycle escort for the family to pick up Cpl. McArdle and his wife at JFK Airport in Queens.
“When we arrived at the airport, they let us park right in front of the terminal,” Ms. McArdle-Abinette said. “Then a representative from Delta Air Lines came out and had someone from the police and the Army meet us. They escorted us right through security, and they had my son and his wife get off the plane first.
“They brought them right to baggage, and got the dog, and people applauded as they went by.”
The motorcyclists from the US Veterans Motorcycle Club, which is headed by Frank Bania of Bellport, were all lined up as the soldier family came out of the terminal and applauded as they walked past, Ms. McArdle-Abinette said.
From there, the motorcycles escorted them home, she said.
They were met at Exit 71 by trucks from the Riverhead Fire Department, which then joined the parade that escorted them to Riley Avenue School in Calverton, where the fire department hung a giant U.S. flag as the procession passed and saluted the returning Veterans, Ms. McArdle-Abinette said.
While many people might think Hawaii is a pretty nice place to be, Cpl. McArdle prefers being back home in Calverton.
“I’m staying for good,” he said. “I’m out of the Marine Corps. I haven’t really got to experience anything with all the commotion, but it feels good. I’m finally back in New York. It’s colder, but it’s better than living on a little island.”
His wife is still in the Army but she doesn’t have to go back to her native Hawaii either.
“I can find another unit here,” she said. “There’s a unit here that has already accepted me. My unit was support of the Army hospital in Hawaii. I’m an Army reservist.”
Cpl. McArdle said he also has a brother in law in the U.S. Air Force.