This is the moment hero Marine Duncan Forbes beaming with pride and fights back tears of happiness as he cuddles his little baby James properly for the first time since he was born.
Major Forbes, of 40 Commando, was on the front line in Sangin spearheading some of the bloodiest fighting in Afghanistan when wife Emma gave birth.
He was allowed home briefly to see his tiny son born, but was then flown straight back to the battle-weary unit that tragically lost 14 brave men during the six month tour.
But yesterday Maj Forbes returned with others from 40 Commando’s C-Company who returned to a heroes welcome at their base at Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, Somerset.
Maj Forbes hugged and kissed Emma before he scooped up son Thomas, aged 20 months and baby James, now four months old.
The Royal Marines had been operating in the Sangin area of Helmand Province since April before it was taken over by US forces in September.
Overjoyed Emma Forbes choked back tears as she rushed forward and hugged husband Duncan – after he home from the frontline in Afghanistan.
Major Forbes, from C-Company of the 40 Commando Royal Marines, then rushed to embrace Thomas and James – who he last saw aged just 10 days old – after securing leave.
Emma said: ”It feels fantastic to have him home. We are delighted to be a family together again.
”We have missed him a lot and I’m so happy he’s back. There’s champagne waiting in the fridge and steak for dinner.”
Maj Forbes said: ”It has been a challenging tour – there has been routine bravery out there by the guys everyday.
”Sangin is a tough environment to work in but everyone can leave with their heads held high.
”I’m very proud of what we did. It was a bittersweet tour, but the lives that have been lost were not in vain.
”It is a sad day for the families of those who have died and my thoughts are with them as well.
”It’s great to come back and see my family – James was 10 days old when I last saw him so he’s changed shape a bit!”
Emma was six months pregnant when her husband was deployed to Afghanistan and she gave birth to baby James in June.
Maj Forbes did have one surprise in store for him as he hugged Thomas close as the toddler has learned to talk while he was in Afghanistan.
Emma has kept a blog detailing her experience as the loved one of a marine fighting on the front line since his deployment in April.
In her final entry before Duncan’s return she said: ”This has been a gruelling six months and my prayers are with the families whose loved ones are not coming home.
”I expected to feel simple, childish joy and anticipation as I count down the days and hours (and I do).
”However, going through a deployment with small children has made me acutely aware of the sacrifice all of the guys make.”
She said yesterday (weds) : ”I started to write the blog because I thought it might help the families of others in Afghanistan.
”But actually I found it really therapeutic and wrote more than I thought I would.”
* Major Forbes was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and has since been on several tours to Afghanistan.
Cpl Christopher Harrison Cpl Christopher Harrison was the first marine from the unit to have been killed on May 9.
During their operation, 13 marines from the base at Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset, were killed and 11 were seriously injured.
Speaking of their losses, one marine said: ”There have been some really bad days, especially when one of our lads got killed.
”It’s hard not to give up. I kind of block it out until we’re home safe and then I’ll start mourning.”
The rest of the 40 Commando Royal Marines will be return to their Somerset base over the following week.
After their return home, the marines will have three weeks off before returning to march through Taunton town centre on November 17.
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