One of the best things about deployments besides the gifts your Marine gets you is their arrival!! Depending on the type of deployment, the location of their deployment and what base you are stationed at will determine the kind of Homecoming Reception your unit has.
I know that on MEU’s sometimes they let Marines get off the ship at a port close to your location and use their leave time early instead of waiting the extra week or more to make it back to land for the big homecoming. It was a great relief for some to see their heroes early and an exhilarating surprise for others to have their husbands standing outside their door! The Facebook posts from so many wives that weekend were so moving and I melted thinking of how some of these strong, hardened Marines thought of a secret plan to fly home before everyone else and catch their wives off guard with no makeup on, the house a mess, a full load of dishes in the sink and probably a pile of laundry! LOL! Hilarious but yet thoughtful and romantic at the same time!
Some families stay at home and let the Marines drive their own vehicle from their drop off location and choose to not wait for hours on base for their arrival. For our first deployment I wasn’t even in the state myself. I was unaware of how incredibly amazing the homecomings can be. Not all homecomings have the rolled out carpets and velvet ropes. Not all homecomings the Marines march in together in formation. Not everyone’s experience is the same but at times it is a very surreal, somber, emotional, heartfelt, heartbreaking, and thrilling event which can be an exhausting for the reasons stated above.
One of my particular homecoming though, I was pumped up. I helped the FRO and families cope & survive during this deployment and I felt like my heart was in the production of helping set up, prepare and assist family members during the waiting game before the busses arrived with the men. Now on the family readiness side we thought we were pretty prepared. We had plenty of coffee makers, ice, balloons, snacks, water, kids’ patriotic paintings, mini flags to line the streets and canopies for families to sit under. This is where the Semper Gumby comes in at. Almost every FRO will have Homecoming Arrival time frames for the family members to go by. As typical Homecomings can be the times we were told were incorrect and the time frames were early by about 5-6 hours. Thankfully, all of the parents and wives I talked to were very patient, understanding and cooperative during this time especially knowing their Marines are so close to being in their arms.
When the busses started to arrive and head towards the armory it was a sight for sore eyes. Unfortunately but expectedly some of the attendees wandered off thinking they’d get to get their men early but all it did was to stall the transition and accountability process. We were about 300 yards away from the armory on a different street. We were near a BEQ (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters or barracks rooms) and there were Marines walking around in their cami’s all day so we didn’t really even know when or how orderly our Marines would be released from the armory to begin walking our way.
Would they all be marching into the Homecoming location? Marines were pilling about in two and four at a time people were on pins and needles; but was it our Marines? We all stood on our tip toes trying to catch a glimpse of a familiar face since all of these Marines seem to look alike!!
I’ve heard so many stories of ladies who grabbed and hugged the wrong Marine! LOL! Hilarious but I didn’t want it to be me!
Slowly but surely indivdual hugs, tears, screams and jumping commenced; they were on their way! After a long tiring day we eventually all found our Marines and were able to hug for the first time in nearly 7 months! They had all had long and stressful days so all they wanted was to eat some Carl’s Jr. or McDonalds, get a shower and head home.
The best thing about this deployment was it was a MEU & ladies that is where our hard work is repaid in GIFTS!!!! These men have time to shop at ports and bring back the BEST loot! I swear if you need silk sheets, M.A.C. Makeup, jewelry or jewelry boxes, pearls, ect they will be able to find it for pennies on the dollar!
Another deployment down and many more to go in these years to come! My husband had information for me in the next few hours that would change my world forever. Little did he know that I was already aware of the situation but hadn’t come to grips with it just yet…