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Bittersweet Christmas For Parents Of N.J. Marine Serving Overseas

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Christmas tree ornament honors Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Martino Jr., who's serving overseas again this Christmas. (credit: CBS 2)

Christmas tree ornament honors Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Martino Jr., who’s serving overseas again this Christmas. (credit: CBS 2)

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WHARTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Christmas is all about family, so it can be tough for those who have relatives serving in the military.

As CBS 2′s Scott Rapoport reported from Wharton, N.J., the holidays are again a hard time for Gina Rousset and Michael Martino.

Their only son, 23-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Martino Jr. is deployed overseas for the holidays a half a world away for the third year in a row.

“Him not being here for the holidays I think that’s the saddest part,” Rousset told Rapoport.

“People say over time it gets easier but it doesn’t. It doesn’t,” Martino added.

This year, he is in Okinawa, Japan.

On his last deployment, he was in Yemen and Libya during the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Embassy there.

Martino is part of the Marines elite security team, a global anti-terrorism response unit.

It’s a dangerous and potentially deadly duty, Rapoport reported.

“I don’t want to be one of those families where your son doesn’t come home. I wouldn’t be able to take it, I wouldn’t be able to live myself,” said Rousset.

On lucky days, they get to see him and talk to him using FaceTime.

Rousset said those conversations give her hope.

“That he stays safe and he comes home safe. That’s all I want,” she said.

Like most parents with children in the military, Michael’s parents say what they feel most is an overwhelming sense of pride in their son. But they said that’s a bittersweet feeling, especially on Christmas Day.

Michael’s parents say when he’s done with the Marines in 2016, he plans to apply for work for the FBI or the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

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