20 December, 2006

Christmas and the USO

Headed off to the USO again, today (was there yesterday, too).

It's an interesting place these days. It's rather busy due to typical Holiday travel. Yesterday ranged from new graduates of SOI brought in by the busload to meet their flights home for Christmas, to a man visiting his son in the psych ward of the hospital, to a buffed-out sailor headed to Iraq after volunteering to be an Individual Augmentee.

Here, the impending charges on some of the "Haditha Marines" and the names of those who were recently KIA are in the air, for those are "local" stories. So many Marines pass through that I can't remember all their faces, but each time I see a picture of a local fallen Marine I wonder if he was one of those I welcomed at the desk beginning or ending pre-deployment leave not so long ago...

But usually overpowering the twinges of melancholy are the joy and exuberance of the Boot Camp and SOI graduates, such as those who arrived via buses yesterday and swooped through like a cloud of locusts. I was manning the kitchen when they arrived, and I literally couldn't stock things fast enough to keep up with the hordes! Fortunately, we had donations of hot egg & cheese croissants, homemade cookies, and eggnog to augment the usual pastries and muffins. But as crazy-busy as they make us, their energy, enthusiasm and shouts of gratitude upon seeing the spread are always heart-warming. In many ways they're like playful puppies: anxious to get to the food and ever so grateful that you've put it out for them.

And how can puppies ever make you anything but happy? ;)