03 February, 2006

A Marine Father's Pride

I'm lucky to count among my friends the father of a Marine who just returned from a challenging deployment to Iraq. He has graciously given me permission to reproduce exceprts from an email he sent me, describing the reunion with his son and time spent with his son's fellow Marines.

Though this is only one father-son story, I'm sure it is representative of the experiences and pride of many other fathers and sons. I thank my friend for the window into a kind of pride and joy we civilians may never quite experience ourselves.

He begins by responding to my comments on a photo of his son with some wounded buddies who were there to greet them.

Yeah, there were two moments when he came out of "The Stare" and you nailed the one [time] with his buds. He was QRF [Quick Reaction Force, responding to ambushed units] this last deployment so the last time he saw those guys were when they were blown up and bleeding while he carried them to the chopper. For him to step off that bus and see them all there standing tall and hootin' and hollerin' was just something that words can't describe! Justification? Relief? Satisfaction? No, just pure 100% unadulterated LOVE! These guys are too macho to say it but that is what they have for each other!


[Watching him embrace the women in the family] I got all misty right there on the
spot! God how he loves [them]. He'd walk through hell with a squirt gun for them. They...are the reason he does what he does. My wife was like a Mexican Jumping Bean waiting on that bus! If it wouldn't have come when it did she probably would've passed out right there on the spot!

What was interesting to me watching all of this was the deference he is shown by his mates. Even the old crusty 1st Sgts, MSgts, and Gunnys all made it a point to speak with him awhile. I thought at first that it was just simply the way it was but I only noticed one other [of his rank] that received this type of attention.


The WIA boys that were standing respectfully to the side waiting for "family time" to be over attacked him! Man what a scene that was. Talk about pulling your heartstrings! They didn't move exceptionally quick but they were so full of life it was simply amazing! I heard a lot of stories about my son from them. Those are things I cannot pass on and yes, I'm being totally selfish but they belong to me alone. Just suffice it to say that my little boy has become a man in every sense of the word. And a damn fine Marine! The danger he placed himself into time and time again speaks volumes about how much he truly loves these guys he serves with.

They are all that way. To them it is simply what they do and no big deal. I had the honor and privilege of being allowed to sit in on their discussions. Reminded me a lot of playing ball and how we would all sit around and shoot the breeze, recalling plays we made and things we picked up during a game. These stories were a lot like that but damn if they weren't life and death. Literally! It is amazing the amount of hardship and privation these guys suffer through as a matter of course. Just being a Marine is all. Ain't nothing but a thing!


The boys absolutely love my wife. She would hear their stories and I would explain who they were, when they got wounded, how, and who died at the time. She would then give them a hug and that would make them melt. A couple even broke down on the spot just knowing that there is someone like her out here that really gives a damn about them and understands what they are going through. It was just simply a stupendous homecoming!


God, we are blessed as a nation. And half of us don't even have a clue let alone appreciate what these guys do for us.