Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments on my Marine Corps reserve training posts. I know how much I've enjoyed reading Shanti's posts about her deployment at sea this past year - so I thought you'd enjoy a peak into Marine Corps life as well. Many of you said how it gave you a much greater appreciation for what our military personnel do. I'm very glad of that. I'm very proud of all my brothers and sisters at arms and grateful for everyone's service. No two people have the exact same career path, but everyone who volunteers to serve in our military definitely has a higher calling and sets aside their personal needs for the good of our country.
But let me tell you how Americans showed their gratitude for our service. The last part of my training was the trip home. I told you earlier that the military is very cost-conscious. This is a good thing. The tough thing is that it takes a long time to get from point A to point B. My trip from Westport, Connecticut to Hawthorne, Nevada took 31 hours. The trip back took 32. Both journeys included two sleepless nights. That's normal. I enjoy telling people that one of the best skills I learned in the military was the ability to sleep any time, anywhere, standing up, lying down, in the wind, in the rain, sleep when and where you can.
So sleep we did - on the bus from the desert to the makeshift USO in Reno near the airport. They woke us up beginning at 0300 and every hour after that to announce "Bus leaving for any flights departing between 0500-0600." So the sleep was interrupted, but at least there was no sand. My group had the latest flight of the day at 4:45 p.m. so we had the USO to ourselves from 10:00 a.m. on. We talked with all the volunteers from the local community - some were blue star mothers, some were retired military, some were corporations who cared, some were just wonderful volunteers in the community who were called from work, their churches, and more. The baked goodies, served hotdogs and hamburgers, baked beans, cole slaw, dished out ice cream, provided beverages, brought in fresh fruit, magazines, created an impromptu take-away reading library, and entertained us. This was all especially touching since this was not an established USO - so it really meant that the volunteers had to answer the call and make this facility from scratch. Everyone was so kind and the Marines were extremely grateful. The icing on the cake came at 12:00 noon when everyone had left for the airport.
A few men from the local car club brought their fancy sports cars to create an impromptu car show for the Marines. Unfortunately for most Marines, they got the time wrong - they came at 12:00 noon, not 12:00 midnight. Fortunately for my Marines, we got a private tour. They were like kids in a candy shop.
They took lots of pictures and smiled the largest happiest smiles I think I've ever seen on a group of grown men. If you have ever been to a car show, you know that the owners never let you touch the car, let alone sit in them. Not Mike, Gary or G.P.! They let my Marines sit in their cars and snap pictures.
And these were not just any sports cars, these were top of the line Mercedes and Ferraris. Did I mention it was like a dream come true for these Marines?
I wonder if my reserve pay is enough to buy one of these?
I could get used to this!
The best part of all, is that Mike, Gary and G.P. took the Marines for a little spin around the parking lot. The Marines returned on cloud 9.
One of the Marines was heard to say "This is the best day of my life"
So thank you to all the generous people of Reno, Nevada who showed your support and love of the military with your time, efforts, and generosity. Your efforts were so greatly appreciated!