Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Flying East

On February 15th, we left our temporary home at Camp Victory and traveled via bus to the Kuwait International Airport, the next stop in our journey eastward. After boarding a charter jet at the Kuwait City International Airport, we departed for Shannon, Ireland, our one and only layover between Kuwait and Cherry Point, North Carolina. Our brief stop in Shannon gave us the opportunity to debark the plane and stretch our legs inside the international terminal. Most of the Marines headed straight for the bar to purchase their first beer since arriving in Iraq. The Marines were given a 2 beer limit, primarily to avoid any alcohol related incidents on our way home. At 6:30 in the morning, however, I was in no mood for a beer and opted for a double-shot of espresso instead. Several Marines opted to spend their time browsing the duty free shops in search of some last minute trinkets for kids, spouses and significant others.

Traveling with us were Marines from the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (2nd MLG), formerly referred to as 2nd FSSG. Aboard the plane, the 350 Marines were split among coach and first class. The Officers and Staff NCOÂ’s were led to the front of the aircraft where smiling crewmembers greeted us warmly. Though I try not to abuse the privileges of being an Officer, the first class section was one perk I was definitely not going to refuse! I took full advantage of the supple leather seats with integrated foot rests, extra legroom, and in-seat televisions. I started feeling sorry for the Marines stuck in coach, but quickly drifted off in a comfortable slumber, the roar of the jet engines lulling me to sleep. After traveling in cramped helicopters and HMMWVÂ’s over the last few months, I wasn't about to give up my spot in first class.

Nearly 15 hours after leaving Kuwait, the plane touched down at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, NC. The date was February 15th, 2006, the sun shining brightly as we taxied down the runway and eased into the terminal area. The Marines were all smiles as the doors opened and we caught our first breath of fresh Carolina air. Gone were the pungent odors of burning trash and port-o-johns. We had finally arrived home.

After an hour of sifting through seabags and MOLLE packs, our group boarded buses for Jacksonville, NC. A short, 30 minute drive led us straight to the gates of Camp Lejeune, home base to the majority of Marines traveling with me. As we approached the MEF Headquarters, family members of Marines could be seen standing behind signs and placards, waiting to welcome home their loved ones whom they so dearly missed over the last few months.

The next 5 days would be spent attending mandatory briefings, required of all returning warriors. These classes included safety lectures, a brief from the Chaplain, and a host of other nitnoid lectures focused on helping the Marines readjust to normal life. Certainly nothing earth shattering or difficult, the classes were usually over by noon, the rest of the day available for PT or relaxation with family, a nice way to transition back to life at home. Soon enough, the Marines will be preparing for their next deployment. These few days of easy living will pass, and the Marines will be back to normal, ready to serve wherever they are called to do so. That is the life of a Marine.

11 comments:

Samantha West said...

Welcome home!

Anonymous said...

Welcome home!

Anonymous said...

Dude,

You're home. I am taking some leave before picking up my cushy orders in the Pentagon. Give me a call. Hell, I can even join you for lunch/dinner in Q'town.

Macon

Anonymous said...

Welcome back buddy.

Tim

Beth* A. said...

Pleased as punch for you; welcome back stateside!

CJ said...

SO glad you are back home safely. Its always a relief when more of you come home safe and sound. Thank you from my heart for doing what you do. You guys are awesome!

Gypsy said...

Sir, a hearty welcome home! My thanks to you and I hope you enjoy your time reuniting with friends and loved ones!

Cheryl Friend said...

Sir,
I salute you and WELCOME HOME! I hope to be at LeJeune in March for my nephew's homecoming. I would like to buy you that beer if you will be available! Semper Fi!

GunnNutt said...

WELCOME HOME!!!!!

and Semper Gratus!

Anonymous said...

Welcome home from a grateful American.

Gunny P (Retired) said...

A belated welcome back to the world Devildog. Will give ya a call once your settled.