Family Reunion in Fallujah
Well, where does a father start? I am proud that I have served our beloved Corps for 15 years. 12 of which was on active duty in the Airwing(VMFA-314, VMFA-531, MATSG-90), got out in 1994. Went back in the reserves after 9/11, took over a year to get my waiver but I got it and was reinstated as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, Kilo 3/23 after 9 years broken time. Rare but these things do happen ask my buddy Ernie Hall!! Deployed to Iraq at the first part of the war in 2003. Upon returning home my Son was about to graduate from high school and expressed to me that he wanted to join the Corps. WOW! Outwardly I was very concerned as I had just returned home from a combat tour in Iraq, but inwardly I was bursting with pride that my Son was thinking about joining the Corps. Words could and still cannot describe what that meant to me. You brother Marines out there with Son’s and Daughter’s that are in the Corps understand. A few weeks before his graduation from recruit training in San Diego, he writes me that he wants me to be in uniform on his graduation day. I wasn’t planning on it because I didn’t want to take away from his big day so I wrote that back to him, which he quickly wrote back that was all he wanted on his graduation day was to stand on the same parade deck that I did 22 years earlier both of us wearing our uniforms. That was and will always be one of the proudest moments in my life along with the day God brought him into my life. Well it’s been almost 3 years since then and he is on his second tour of duty here in Iraq. He spent the better part of 2005 patrolling the streets of Ramadi, and is now back, but this time in Fallujah. With HQ Bat 2/10.
The reason I am referring to him as back over here is that I work for a private security firm now and have been stationed in Baghdad for over a year and pretty much work this local area. Although I can’t go into who and what we protect I will tell this great story of How and old Marine and his Son were able to share dinner last Saturday night in Fallujah. Now another one of my most proud moments in my life. To see my Son there doing what other Marines have done for over 231 years. Another “WOW”. God has truly blessed my family in ways that only few will ever understand. Fallujah was the second to last stop in a very long day of movements. Thanks to the efforts of a Marine Capt and Lieutenant (I’d love to mention there names but won’t for security purpose) who got the ball rolling even before my detail arrived. They found where in the city my son was working and made arrangements for him to be at the main Marine base there for a short visit. There are a lot more details and this letter would be much longer but the long and short of it is, “That Marines take care of there own”. Even in a combat environment. When I saw my son last saturday4/14/07, once again my heart was bursting with pride only now I can share it and the people around me understand. They all seemed to be as proud and excited as I was and am. In there own way they were all being reunited with their own Son’s or Daughter’s or Brother’s and Sister’s. Here are a couple pictures of that reunion in Fallujah. Thank you for listening to the thoughts and ramblings of a Very Proud Marine Father.
PS: My Buddy Ernie Hall was out for ten years and got a waiver to get back in. Both he and I were able to share our years of experience with the young Marines in our unit. Kilo co 3rd Btl 23rd Marines out of Memphis, TN. He also has a son that is a United States Marine. Lcpl Ernie Hall jr.
Manuel L Saldana “Sgt of Marines”
1982-1994-3rd MAW, MATSTG-90
2003-2006- Kilo co 3rd Battalion 23rd Marine Regiment 4th Marine Div
“Father God please continue to watch over my Son Lcpl Robert L Saldana, and all the other members of our armed forces as they carry our message of freedom and liberty to the people of the world”