When I last posted, I was on the airplane flying from Fort Bliss, TX, back to March AFB in Riverside. We got off the airplane on , Sept. 26, at about 8:30AM. We walked off the plane, and were greeted by BG William Frink, as well as several other local army folks. They had some Marines from the local base to pick up our luggage, which was nice. Our group had about 65 or so people by this time, many cross-level soldiers having already left to go directly home from El Paso.
The big wigs made us wait around an hour or so, as they were organizing our “welcome home” procession. So after waiting until about 10AM on that Sunday morning, we rode on two buses out from March AFB, and were greeted by an escort of about 25 motorcyclists. The California Highway Patrol also closed down the Interstate 215 freeway for about five minutes for our caravan to pass. So it was interesting to be in a bus escorted by a bunch of Harleys and the CHP. We arrived at the Riverside Marriott hotel, and saw that the fire department was there with a flag raised on its fire truck ladder:
A large crowd was there to welcome us back. Sorry for the bad quality of this photo, it was taken through the bus window:
They made us all get off the bus and get into a formation. Of course, my kids did not understand, and rushed up to me anyway, delaying me from joining the formation for a few moments. Here I am carrying daughter Rebecca towards the pavillion where we were forming up, while daughter Judy is right behind us:
The brigade commander gave a short speech for about 3 minutes, and then we were released. It was a very happy time, because many in the crowd had not seen their family members for several months!
The army provided us a free hotel room for two nights at the Marriott, so I took my wife and children out for some lunch, and then a swim in the hotel pool. My family and I went back home to Camarillo that evening, but I had to stay in Riverside until Tuesday. The next few days were filled with some briefings. They told us not to commit suicide again, and filled us in on our benefits for our service in Iraq. We had nice meals at the hotel, and the hotel itself was a great place to have these briefings. Here is a photo of retired MG Paul Mock giving a speech at the hotel conference room:
On Tuesday evening, the big event was a “Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award Presentation.” More speeches were given, and everyone got a flag, a set of lapel pins, and coin. WOO HOO! Here is BG William Frink giving me my award:
We were finally released mid-morning on Tuesday, Sept. 29. I drove back home to Camarillo. It was good to see my family again, and of course we were very happy to be back together again! Here we are as I’m picking up my kids from school right after returning to Camarillo:
It’s great to be back home, finally. I have more to say, but that will have to wait for another post. There are several other things to talk about in this Blog pertaining to Iraq, the military, and related subjects, so please continue to visit!