Monday, November 20, 2006

welcome back charlie company

thank you for serving but damn thanks for coming home more! my thoughts and prayers are for those who didn't come home

Back From Fallujah, Looking For Normal

By JESSE HAMILTONThe Hartford Courant November 19 2006 SOUTHINGTON -- Here, the Marines seem younger, the years scrubbed from their faces, no trace of Fallujah on immaculate dress uniforms.Like Rip Van Winkle's nap in reverse, the weary men of Charlie Company closed their eyes in Iraq and awoke a few weeks later in a sparkling Connecticut ballroom - well-dressed warriors returned to their prom days.At the annual Marine Corps birthday ball, they fetch drinks for dates in formal gowns, and they joke with their buddies, and the evening glows. But it's not so easy to trade their war for lighter hearts. Not all have lowered their weapons or dropped their armor since returning to Connecticut in late October. Fallujah is still fresh, and it's hard for some to believe they have made it home.The Marines' celebration is a surface thing, like the fancy uniforms dripping with new medals. Under that surface still breathes that ruined city in the desert and the marks it left on the Plainville-based troops from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines.Beneath the left sleeve of Lance Cpl. Lino Torres' dress blues, a fresh tattoo on reddened skin - four names of men who won't grow any older. Beneath Lance Cpl. James Lauber's right pant leg, the stitched wreckage of his leg, dotted with angry scars. Beneath almost 23 years worth of medals on 1st Sgt. Ben Grainger's chest, a heart condition that almost separated him from his men. Almost.And from beneath the lifted glasses, the shouted stories and the dance music, four names surface again and again. Christopher B. Cosgrove III. Kurt Dechen. Brian Letendre. And Jordan Pierson. Talk never strays far from the four who didn't survive Iraq.Every Marine left something in Fallujah. Every Marine brought something home.................

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