Thursday, March 19, 2009

Coming Back Home

Everything is so... damn... green...

I was staring out the window of the bus taking most of my platoon from the base where we landed to Camp Pendleton. I was touched by the reception of the Fire Department's water arch, the volunteers and vets shaking hands and handing out munchies, but my most distinct memory of that ride was the landscape.

It was early Spring, just past the end of Winter, so in reality the area was most likely moving along just as normal, just showing the start of real vegetative growth, but after the sand and rock of Iraq, it was a bit overwhelming. My wide-eye and nose-squishing view of the relative greenyness of real, live, actual grass (and, holy crap, trees!) was interrupted by the flashing red and blue lights of the escort squad cars, leap-frogging the bus convoy to block another intersection.

'Polowsky', in an actually pretty spot-on accent, exclaimed, "Oye, Cortez, la migra, la migra!". 'Cortez' responded with the appropriate (and expected) finger. Both were staring out the window, like myself.

As we approached the base, the buses first crossed the outskirts of the city, where we first started seeing the folks out on their front yards, then in front of their offices, and even a few just walking around. Seemed like a larger number than I would expect were waving and holding 'welcome back' signs. After extended periods of time seeing nothing but the same scruffy Marines, seeing random ladies waving and greeting us was a bit overwhelming, as well.

One of the last speeches that we got before stepping off the bus was from the platoon sergeant. He rose from his seat, called for our attention, and said a few short words. Paraphrasing, he acknowledged that he wasn't going to be too long, because he knew it wouldn't sink in if it was too long.

He told us to enjoy returning home, that we deserved it, for a hard job, done well He told us to remember that just because we were home, well, the job still wasn't completely done, quite yet. He told us to remember that there was quite a few of our Marines that were recuperating, waiting at Camp Pendleton, but still others in hospitals that hadn't recovered enough to greet us.

No reminder was necessary, but he mentioned the 12 Marines that were already home, but that we'd never eventually see or talk to again.

Coming back home was alot like that.

There was almost nearly constant surprise, seeing how much has changed, and realizing that some things had just changed in my perspective. The elation was off the charts, what with guys meeting newborns, reacquainting with wives, taking calls from long-distance family, and beginning the process of unwinding. Every once in a while, though...

From what I understand, a fairly usual homecoming.

Memory snippet above has been rolling around in my head for a bit, but was prompted by an email pointing out a music video by Pat McGee. Good stuff.


Bob G. said...

Kinda hard NOT to get the "lumpy-throat" after seeing that.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but your recollections and this video speak VOLUMES!!

THIS...IS America! what it's ALL about.
This IS what our warriors are fighting for.
And this IS what they sacrifice and die for.
Lest we forget...

Thanks for reminding all of us, Murph!

Carry On.

Old NFO said...

I think I got some dust in my eye... Having done this 9 times over my career, thankfully only twice from Vietnam, this really captures the sacrifices our folks make that NEVER is seen/appreciated by John Q. Public...

Ours were a little different, in that we did not fly in as a unit, usually 2-3 birds a day, as Customs took 2-3 hours per bird to tear us apart on arrival... THAT was the hardest part- Being able to see family, and know it would be 2-3 hours before you could actually hold them. Good post Murph, thanks!

Anonymous said...

My Marine is coming home too, very soon, maybe even next week. So long Fallujah, hello San Diego! And welcome back USMC!!

Bob Perrow

Crucis said...

You know, it's funny. I can't remember coming back. I know I flew in to March AFB from Anderson AFB via Hickam. I know I flew to Richards-Gebaur AFB from March on a MOANG bird.

I just can't remember it.

J.R.Shirley said...


I'm actually thinking about volunteering to deploy again. Huh.