There is absolutely nothing like coming home and even better coming home to a community that appreciates what you have done. Billings, Montana, in the heartland of America, made sure that all their reservists knew their efforts in defense of their country were acknowledged and appreciated.
Marines welcomed home - billingsgazette.com: "The homecoming parade was organized to welcome home members of Bravo Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division from Iraq. The Marines were stationed for 10 months at Camp Fallujah, south of the Iraqi city that was a hotbed of insurgency.
The Marines, delivered downtown in camouflage-colored trucks, walked along in a loose formation, behind a Marine color guard. The parade started at the corner of North 25th Street and Third Avenue North.
Several Billings Police and Yellowstone County patrol cars escorted the reservists, lights flashing and sirens blaring. Skyview High musicians, standing on a flatbed truck, came behind the reservists, playing assorted tunes, and a Billings fire truck brought up the rear.
Bystanders clapped and cheered, waved small American flags and held up signs as the Marines passed by. Smiles broke out on the faces of the soldiers who seemed surprised by the enthusiastic crowd.
Ruby Aycock brought a sign to welcome her son, Cpl. Robby Aycock. It read 'Welcome Home Daddy Son Husband Brother Nephew.'
The sign also contained a photo of her son and a picture of his twin infants, Davin and Meric, born while he was away.
'I'm just so glad to have him home,' she said. 'I'm glad he's safe and all the others came home without too much injury.'
About 35 students from Hunter Jones' eighth-grade history classes held a blue-and-red sign that read 'Welcome Home.' The Will James Middle School students sent weekly letters and regular packages to the Marine Reservists during their tenure in Iraq, Jones said.
Occasionally the troops broke rank to shake hands or hug a parade watcher. Then they got back in line and kept walking until they finished the short parade route, about 20 minutes later.
After the parade, the reservists planned to go to the Billings Armed Forces Reserve Center with family and friends for a barbecue.
Maribeth Daines of Billings came to the parade with her three children and one of their friends to thank the Marines.
'I just feel like I really wanted to welcome them home,' she said, holding an umbrella decorated with an American flag. 'I appreciate what they've done for us all.'