From the Founder: My Homecoming Experience
Retrograde is the return of deployed Marines, better known as homecoming for our Marine parents, spouses, family and friends. Retrograde includes return from MEUs/floats as well as in-country deployments (overseas stations)
My Son's Homecoming from Iraq to 29 Palms
My son was part of 3/4 and returned to 29 Palms at the end of May for his 2003 deployment to Iraq, and in July for his 2004 deployment to Iraq. I wish I could be there with all of you for all of your Marines.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I arrived at 29 Palms in early evening the day before the actual homecoming. We had many families join us at the condos we stayed at, from around the United States that we had met on the MarineParents web site, and it was just phenomenal to meet and hug each other and share tears and anticipation just prior to their homecoming.
Once our Marines returned though, we let them call the shots, and it was tough to get back in touch with each other, so I truly enjoyed that time beforehand to share some of our "Marine Mom" experiences. It's a time in my life I will never forget.
My time with my son was the best part of my life with him up to this point in time. We talked and laughed and hugged and cried. He actually slept on a rollaway bed in my bedroom, (if you can call it sleep). We stayed up all night most nights, just talking and listening to music. We got very little sleep, which didn't bother him at all; it's what he was used to. And I was fine...my feet never touched the ground.
I hope you can make it for your Marine's homecoming. I know it will be a time that you will treasure always. God bless our Marines, God bless each of you, and I wish I could be there with you.
MarineParents.com Name Tags/Badges
The Marine Moms, Dads, Wives, Family and Friends that I met on the MarineParents web site and I printed name tags to wear so we could find each other, and I put one on my 'Welcome Home Derrick' poster that I carried around with an 11x13 picture of Derrick's MCRD-SD in dress blues.
POSTERS WITH YOUR MARINE'S PHOTO
I couldn't bring posters with me, so we made them there. I used a local office supply store that enlarged my wallet-size photo to an 11x13 for just a couple dollars. They had all the poster making tools we needed and we didn't have to spend a fortune.
ARRIVING ON THE BASE
Take 29 Palms Highway to Adobe Road. Follow Adobe Road to the base. As you get close to the base, there is a visitor center off to the right before the guard gate. You will need to go in there and show your id, driver's registration, and proof of insurance. On subsequent visits, you will check in at the main gate. When we arrived just at the gate just prior to the homecoming, they were doing routine searches of all vehicles; not a big deal, but give yourself a few extra minutes.
THE HOMECOMING REUNION
The MCCS provided light refreshments and cold beverages as well as reading material in the gym where the reunion took place. It could be a long wait for children, so bring things to entertain them. I'd suggest toting a cooler with beverages and snacks just in case MCCS is not able to provide refreshments. We got there way too early for homecoming, but I loved meeting all the other parents, wives, and families and taking photos and sharing my overabundance of excitement and adrenalin. I don't want to say much about the actual homecoming; brass bands and patriotism and tears and hugs. I'm simply not a talented enough writer to do justice to such a phenomenon. For now, suffice it to say the emotion of that evening has touched me forever and will always remain in me.