Austin Bay, retired Marine Reservist, author and newspaper columnist, was attending a III Corps conference in Corpus Christi when the meeting was interrupted by
"a young officer walked into the hotel ballroom and announced that a US Marine Reserve company was returning to its home base in Corpus after a seven month-tour in Iraq." I’m not sure that anybody actually said “Let’s go,” but BG Troy and LTG Tom Metz (III Corps commander) and the rest of the senior staff (brigadiers, colonels, lieutenant-colonels, sergeant-majors, and master sergeants) instantly emptied the seminar room. To appropriate a colloquial phrase: we beat feet.
Traffic cops and a slew of passersby lined the sidewalk. A Coast Guard helicopter buzzed in from Corpus Christi Bay then banked .
We joined the crowd on the corner of Water Street and Peoples. We may have waited three minutes, at the most. Here came the convoy— a police escort followed by two buses filled with young Marines. We cheered, saluted and clapped as the company rolled by. (I feel certain the company belongs to the 1/23rd Marines. The 1/23rd is a Marine reserve battalion just back from Iraq—and I have friends in Central Texas whose sons serve in that unit. If I’ve got the Corpus Christi unit misidentified, post a comment or drop me an email and I’ll correct it.)
Most of us old codgers wore short-sleeves and slacks, so it’s a fair bet the Marine reservists didn’t know their former Corps commander and his senior staff were cheering with the home crowd. (Probable wisecrack if someone informed a lance corporal: “Hey, sarge—are those the guys responsible for all the dumb orders you didn’t like?”)
Actually, the Marines were smiling and waving—the one memorable face I saw framed in the bus window as it shot past was that of a delighted but obviously tired young man.
Jet lag or Iraq lag? Or lag from a week at the 29 Palms Marine base? Doesn’t really matter now– welcome home.