Skip to comments.Marines welcomed home (Marine Reserves, Austin TX)
Posted on 04/01/2005 5:09:32 AM PST by Arrowhead1952
Families, friends welcome Marines at Camp Mabry.
By Anita Powell
Friday, April 01, 2005
Nila Stricker wiped away tears as the Marines marched four abreast, resolutely looking ahead, avoiding eye contact with their joyous family members.
The crowd's cheering drowned out the music courtesy of a 10-member Austin Police Department bagpipe ensemble as the reservists stopped and turned, looking directly at their family members.
More than 230 war-weary Marines who arrived Thursday at Camp Mabry were swiftly ambushed by nearly 500 excited family members and friends.
The Marine reservists, many from the Austin area, returned after seven months in Al Anbar province in northern Iraq, where Marines reclaimed the city of Fallujah from insurgents in November. Stricker traveled from Salt Lake City to see her son, Texas State University student Lance Cpl. Matthew Dennis, 22.
"I can breathe easier now than I have breathed for the last seven months," she said, blinking away tears. "I am so excited. There are just no words."
Women and men in the crowd wept with joy; children jumped up and down, waving flags; family members called out names and words or encouragement.
The returning Marines are members of two Reserve units at Camp Mabry: Weapons Company and a detachment from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines. Three soldiers in Weapons Company, including Cpl. Joseph Fite, 23, of Round Rock were killed during the deployment.
Lance Cpl. Justin Gower, 21, who was injured by a land mine in December, came to welcome his company home.
"I was with these guys from the beginning. I wanted to see them, and they wanted to see me," said Gower, a Westwood High School graduate who was left with permanent hearing loss, a metal rod in his femur, no sense of smell and a metal plate in his head.
"It was worth it," he said. "I made a difference."
Cpl. Vincent Chen, 21, a slight, bespectacled biochemistry student at the University of Texas, said he felt his experience was valuable, though difficult.
In Fallujah, he said, "A lot of times, it just sucked. We didn't get a lot of sleep. We were working all the time."
"I have a lot more gray hairs on my head," he said with a smile.
"I'm very happy," beamed his mother, Lin Chen, who lives in Sugar Land. "He's our hero."
But, she added quickly, "I think that's enough experience for him."
The Flores family about 35 of them decked out in custom-made red T-shirts to welcome home Cpl. Jesse Flores, 28, of Granger.
"This family sticks together," said his sister, Angie Ochoa, 31. "We're each other's tape."
She said she was proud of her brother, a technician at Dell Inc. who joined the Marine Reserves two weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"He just wanted to do something for his country," she said.
Upon seeing his family, "his eyes got all red," teased his sister, wiping her eyes.
Cpl. David Harris, 26, a business student at UT, locked arms, legs and lips with his girlfriend, Courtney Wallace, 22. Their relationship, he said, grew through e-mails they exchanged while he was deployed.
"I've been waiting on that kiss for a long time," he said.
He said he was proud that a group of Marines from Central Texas had made a difference in the war in Iraq.
"We made one of the biggest impacts in the Iraqi war," he said. "We basically upheld democracy over there. Austin now has a bunch of Marines who have been there, done that."
Welcome home for the Marine Reserves ping....
Thanks for posting this! I heard on the radio that 50 motorcycle cops escorted the soldiers' buses. I'd love to have been there! So happy they're home!
I love these types of posts. I wish I could have been there to cheer them and welcome them home. I'll bet all those liberal anti-war, blame America first cretins in Austin had major heartburn.
Weve got music .
Weve got dancers ..
Weve got amusement .
Weve got food
And, weve got drink ..
Three soldiers in Weapons Company, including Cpl. Joseph Fite, 23, of Round Rock were killed during the deployment.
He left a widow and two children under the age of 5.
All I can figure is that God must surely love us to have sent such men to be our guardians on this Earth.
RIP Capt Fiscus, Indiana Army National Guard