Coming Home

Coming Home

Photo of old Marines gathered to display an airworthy UH-34D helicopterIt’s good to hear stories of our Marines being welcomed home from deployment but it reminds many of us about a different situation years ago when returning from Southeast Asia. We returned to MCAS El Toro in October 1969 to a half dozen cars in the parking lot and transportation instructions. Having grown up in Southern California, I was lucky having my mother pick me up and haul me home through the anti-war protesters at the gate. Within four hours I was on a double date with “The Twins” and Topper Rankin, my 3rd Recon buddy I met on the USS Iwo Jima. Fast forward to October 2000 at the MCAS Miramar Airshow. A group of old Marines gathered to display an airworthy UH-34D helicopter which, to many Vietnam Marines, is a religious icon. It was four days of “Welcome Home” from the the public, the young Marines of Miramar and even Vietnamese who escaped the Communist takeover. We even signed autographs. The event ended with towing the helicopter to the end of the ramp, firing it up and cruising around the hills behind Miramar for a trip of a lifetime. Talk about memory lane. After 30 years, to gather with America’s best who you know will cover your back was something never to be forgotten. It took a week to come back down from the high. Every Vietnam and Korean Vet should have this experience.

Wayne Stafford
RVN 68-69

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