View Full Version : Back home, safe and sound-Osotogary's Sons Unit

Phantom Blooper
09-25-05, 07:30 PM
September 25,2005
Col. Thomas F. Qualls stepped off the CH-46 Sea Knight, dropped to his knees and spread his arms.

His family ran into them.

Qualls, the commander of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, brought more than 2,100 Marines and sailors home with him Saturday as the MEU arrived at Camp Lejeune after a six-month deployment.

While they trained with allied militaries, conducted support operations in Iraq and were even targeted by rockets while at port in Jordan, the most memorable moment of the deployment for Qualls was returning home after a job well done.

"My proudest moment is right here," he said. "It's today. We had no loss of life or limb whatsoever. Today is my proudest accomplishment."

It was also a proud moment for families and friends, many of whom got a chance to see their Marine or sailor as the sun rose and landing craft skimmed onto Onslow Beach from distant Navy ships.

"He told us he didn't want us to come here," said Diane Rouchon, the mother of 1st Lt. James Rouchon from Washington, D.C. "He didn't want us to be emotional, and I don't think he wanted to be emotional. But I just can't wait to see him."

Becky Shinevar and Tanika Prince of Michigan, the mother and sister of Lance Cpl Brandon Sterle, got a wave from him as his amphibious assault vehicle drove past their sign that read: "Welcome Home Brandon!"

"He's my baby," Shinevar said.

While the MEU did not see combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, the deployment was more in line with a traditional MEU deployment. In many ways, the MEU is the essence of what the Marine Corps does: it's able to operate from air, sea or earth and is capable of sustaining itself.

"It reminds us of our roots," said Lt. Col. Robert G. Petit, the commanding officer of 2/8. "That's been our bread and butter, and it's good to get back to it."

While the attack at Aqaba, when rockets flew over the USS Ashland and USS Kearsarge, got a good deal of attention in the U.S., Qualls said they were undeterred by it. The exercises being conducted with the Jordanian military went on without a hitch.

"The ship did a remarkably good job getting underways," Qualls said.

"And they even came back for us," Petit said with a grin.

Good thing, because if they hadn't, it would have made it more difficult to reunite Lance Cpl. John Robinson of Echo Company, 2/8 with his girlfriend, Rebekah Whitton.

Now that he's back on American soil, Robinson said he plans to spend his leave with his family back in Columbia, S.C.

"I'm headed home, going to spend time with the family and enjoy being 21," said Robinson, who marked his 21st birthday while in Kuwait.

Summing up the preparations and the actual deployment, which took a year in all, Qualls said he's pleased how it turned out. But mostly, he's excited to watch his Marines and sailors reunite with their loved ones, including 36 babies born to MEU spouses since they set sail.

"Life hasn't stopped back here," Qualls said. "It continues raging on."

Contact staff writer Chris Mazzolini at cmazzolini@freedomenc.com or at 353-1171, Ext. 229.

09-25-05, 08:22 PM
Thanks for the post. The 26MEU website has been really good about keeping everyone informed, albeit on an official press release kind of way, so, I knew what the tentative arrival schedule would be.
My question to the experts would be, What's usually the schedule of events following the end of a MEU tour? Leave? When? Do the Marines go back to the same barracks/living quarters that they utilized prior to being assigned to the MEU?
Do some of the Marines get reassigned to other battalions, regiments, platoons?
Thanks again, Phantom!

Phantom Blooper
09-25-05, 08:50 PM
Gary, I know that since 8th Marines left Camp Geiger and Geiger is now schools that the regtimental and battalion offices are in the same buildings on CLNC. I was told thru friends of mine that the Marines move back into the same BEQ's that were alloted for each battalion.Rooms however may change. This is traditionally the time to get gear squared away,rifles cleaned and then go on leave and liberty. Depending on the turn around for another float or deployment one could take leave shortly after they get back usally within a week or so. This is normally also the time for change of commands MEU/battalion and getting orders to other duty stations ect. In some cases it may within the regiment.

I was with 8th Marines for 8 years and went on 6 pumps and deployed again for 7 months to Beirut. I stayed in the field and on training assignments it seemed like. But,on the other hand there was allot of free time...thats how all these Marines have these pregnant wimen running and waddlin' around here.

Due to the world situation and that turn around I wouldn't be able to say if they would follow the same training cycle as a unit going out for a six month float. If 2/8 is designated for Iraq the cycle could differ. If not after leave the training cycle will start over again until another med float,Okinawa....?

This is also the time for sending to schools like the PMI course that your Marine took when he came back from Iraq,Drill Instructors School,Recruiters School or inner battalion regiment transfer or time up and getting out. I just went from battalion to battalion and went on pumps for my time at CLNC. The situation could change because this was in 1986 before I went back to Virginia.Hopefully someone with up to date scoop can help. But remember the word is subject to change. Hope this helps.

Semper-Fi! "Never Forget" Chuck Hall

09-25-05, 09:10 PM
Phantom Blooper,

Thanks for the posting and Welcome Back Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit...!!!


Gary I am glad that you and everbody else waiting just got the good news.

Semper Fidelis

Joseph P Carey
09-25-05, 11:31 PM
Welcome home Marine! Your Dad is a good man, I see that it runs in the family!

09-26-05, 05:58 AM
Ooooh Rah!

09-26-05, 06:29 AM
I know the feeling, Gary !!!

Congrats to your boy - and glad he is home safe and sound.

09-26-05, 07:04 AM
There's an echo coming from Altoona, PA on all the comments said to one "Osotogary" aka Gary...

Semper Fidelis/Semper Fi

09-26-05, 10:25 AM
Congrats Gary, say hi for me!!!!!

09-26-05, 11:12 AM
Good news Gary! Where is the DOD son these days?

09-26-05, 01:43 PM
Thanks, one and all, for the nice words. I will pass them on to the Marine.

Namvet67- Last I heard, via e-mail about a little over one month ago, he was in or around Camp Victory. That's about it. Are doing okay in the Lone Star State?

09-26-05, 02:02 PM
All good here Gary!

09-26-05, 02:18 PM
Great news Gary!