Return of the Heroes

We split out of work right on time and zip home. Then we jump in the car and head to BWI. We’re picking up Dawn’s brother Shawn, a Major in the U.S. Army on his way back from his tour in Afghanistan.

He’s been winding his way back for a number of days now, is my understanding. I had thought he was going from Afghanistan to Kuwait, or maybe then it was Kyrgyzstan. I expect he’s coming this latest hop from Frankfurt, Germany. (He tells us later that he spent time in Turkey, and his last hop has been from Ramstein Air Base, which isn’t in Frankfurt.) We also seem to understand that he comes into the US through BWI, rather than straight down to Atlanta, his final destination, because he’s carrying a service weapon and thus is required to go through BWI. We’ve convinced him to stay the night with us. We’re proud and pleased to pick him up.

At BWI we can find no listing of any flight arriving from Ramstein. We ask at the USO office and they tell us to go to the international terminal E. Look for World Airways. We find their counter and the guy there is pretty damn cryptic. I ask if the flight is in fact on time or landed, or if Maj. Dillon is on the flight. All he’ll say is that we’ll see him coming out of customs around eight. We grab a quick beer and bar chum and then come back to wait.

It’s quite a charming little arrival scene, actually. Girl scouts are there to cheer the returning troops. A couple of old vets too, seems like. Finally people in uniform start coming out from the double doors. An old vet directs them down our way so we can clap and cheer and the girl scouts can hand out cookies and candy.

It’s really quite a moving scene. As much as I’m against war, and especially this war, as much as I’m against much of what our military does and is for, it just feels like the right thing to do to welcome back, with honor and gratitude, these men and women.

Finally Shawn comes out with shitloads of luggage. Hugs and greetings and we get him in the car and back to our house, where we feed him good home cooking and give him beer and his own room and a comfy bed. And cats.

Welcome home.