View Full Version : A hero's homecoming

02-05-06, 07:46 AM
A hero's homecoming
Saturday, February 04, 2006
The Daily Sentinel

Anxious glances and idle conversation turned to smiles and cheers Saturday morning when Lance Cpl. Mark Daniel Renshaw walked into the lobby of Walker Field Airport.

Though Renshaw, 20, had returned to the Grand Valley twice before, this was his first visit home since he was deployed to Afghanistan 71/2 months ago.

“It’s good to be back,” he said between hugs as more than two dozen people lined up for an opportunity to thank Renshaw and welcome him home.

Renshaw was recently nominated for the Bronze Star for his efforts saving four Afghani troops while under fire in a village in eastern Afghanistan.

The first soldier he pulled out of the firefight, he said, was dazed, walking through the battlefield with a gaping hole in his right arm.

“He couldn’t move his arm; it was just hanging there limp,” Renshaw said. “And he was just walking down the road, and there were bullets hitting all over the road.”

While patching up the Afghani soldier, Renshaw said, he pulled three other Afghani troops out of the fight who also had wounds from the bullets and rocket-propelled grenades Taliban terrorists were raining down from surrounding cliffs.

Renshaw said one Marine and several Afghani troops were killed during the firefight, which lasted more than an hour. The village, he said, was named Taliban.

Theresa Manthei, Renshaw’s mother, said she was glad to have her son home again.

“For the next three weeks, I’ll be good,” she said.

She said she was most worried that he would come back with “dead eyes” — post traumatic stress disorder — like so many Vietnam War veterans.

Fortunately, he still had that spark in his eyes, she said.

Renshaw enlisted in the Marines during the summer of 2004 after finishing high school at Fruita Monument. According to his family, he knew he wanted to enlist ever since seeing the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“He knew he was going into the Marines after 9-11,” his grandmother, Bobbie Tallarico, said. “He said he was going after bin Laden as soon as he was old enough. He never wavered from that.”

Renshaw is the fourth member of his family to join the Marines, following in the footsteps of his great-uncle, Joseph Francis Tallarico, great-great uncle, Joseph Santoro, and his grandfather, Robert Tallarico. Tallarico was at Walker Field Airport on Saturday.

Tallarico said he was glad so many people had shown up to welcome his grandson home, noting that during the Vietnam era, this never would have happened.

“Coming home for the Vietnam veterans was very different,” he said. “I think Americans today are starting to appreciate how great a country this is.”

Later in the day, while eating lunch with his friends and family, Renshaw said public outrage at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was “demoralizing (troops), because people don’t understand.” He said the number of casualties in either war has yet to eclipse the 2,986 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

“People are soft these days; they expect everything to be perfect,” he said. “You have a better chance of being shot in Washington, D.C., than in battle.”

Renshaw said episodes he saw in eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban was most embedded made him realize that even though the U.S.soldiers were not out to “change their culture,” they could do some good.

“Over in Afghanistan, a female that was past puberty stuck her head out the door to get a look at us and got punched in the face by her brother because she was uncovered,” he said. “We were walking by and this guy comes up and clocks her that’s what we’re trying to change.”

Even though he conceded that the battle on terrorism will outlast his life, Renshaw said the mission in the Middle East will yield some results in the near future.

“Terrorism is an idea and will never be able to be killed,” Renshaw said, “but we can at least make it not worth their efforts.”

Mike Saccone can be reached via e-mail at msaccone@gjds.com.