Once all of our vehicles and equipment were cleaned, inspected, and secured and loaded onto the ships, there was not much else to do with our time. All weapons and ammo had been cleaned and turned in. There were still various things to do for the remaining days we were there, such as report any injuries or illnesses, attend debriefings, and things like paperwork we had to fill out.
I was starting the process of being deactivated and transitioning from active duty from my service at Camp Lejeune to reserve status to be served at the Dallas Naval Air Station (Grand Prairie). My contract was to end May 14, but once we returned home we would have 30 days of leave so that meant I was not going back to Camp Lejeuene. I was looking forward to it as I transitioned into a civilian life only reporting for duty one weekend a month and I could live close to family and friends. But the Marines I served with really wanted me to re-enlist and was reminding me of it on a daily basis. As I was filling out my paperwork, they would encourage me to reconsider "re-upping" and staying in the Marines. They even promised me a promotion if I did. The promise of the promotion was something I had to laugh at, and I'll explain why as I talk about the unofficial promotion and medals I don't wear some time later. They really wanted to keep war experienced Marines as we would be a valuable asset to them in training younger, inexperienced Marines. But I felt like it was time to move on. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had stayed and retired with the Marines. My life would be a lot different.
To help keep our minds off of the waiting game of going home, there was a recreational area that we were allowed to go to when we were done with the days duties. I'll talk more about that in a future post. It's the same area where the phones were located. The picture I've included shows one of the security positions set up around the area that was there for security against any possible terrorist attacks. You may not be able to see it in the picture, but this particular guard station had a machine gun on the roof of one of the buildings.
In a letter from my sister Robin dated 3-27-91, she writes, "Hi Richard. How's it going? I hope you're not too bored over there. Surely there's something that they can find for you guys to do to try and keep your mind off where you are. You said you were playing dominoes. What kind of dominoes? Count or 42? Are you getting good at it? Well, I hope you're feeling all right and not having any allergy problems. I hear the desert can be pretty rough on people with allergies."
"Guess what? I'm doing a research paper in English on 'The Day and Year I Was Born' and it's pretty neat. The things that were going on when I was born, was pretty exciting stuff. A guy could buy a pair of dress slacks for $3.97! You could purchase a whole house full of fancy furniture for about $800! The headlines on the news - papers were about Russia and Cuba and the possibility of war between the U.S. and them! And there was an advertisement in the classified section for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage for $125 a month, and get this - it read 'No Coloreds'! Can you believe that! I guess the law for discrimination hadn't been passed yet. Oh! And you could go see a movie for only $1.50! It's been kind of neat going back in time like that. It's hard to believe how much things have changed in 26 years. Hey! Maybe when you get back, we could go to the library and learn about what was going on the day and year you were born. I think you would enjoy it."
"Well, David is fixing to have his 7th birthday! (4-14-84) When I asked him what he wanted he said he wanted to have his remote control race car fixed, a new basketball, and a new pair of jeans, and for his 'Uncle Bubby' to take him to Showbiz! I guess the kid misses you huh! Oh and he also said that he wished 'nobody in the whole wide world had any army people so that we wouldn't have wars.' He can be thoughtful at times."
"Ashley's really becoming a little lady! Well sort of anyway. She still doesn't like having her hair brushed, but she does like to wear makeup and nice clothes. She's calmed down a lot, not quite as hyper as she used to be. But then again, she keeps reminding me that she's not a little girl now!! Ha ha."
"James and I are doing OK! I got a part-time job working for the government at the Family Outreach Center in East Dallas. It pays $600 a month, plus $210 a month towards my medical care (any health plan I choose) and I only have to work 4 hours a day M-F. It's perfect for me right now because I have school to tend to."
"It was really great to hear your voice on the phone, even if I did have to listen to the beeping, it was still worth it." I remember the beeping sounds on the phone. I never did find out what it was. I remember one afternoon a group of us went to the phones to call Kidd Kraddick, the talk show host of KEGL The Eagle FM 97.1. After we talked to him, I immediately called Robin (it would have been some time around 7 or 7:30 AM) and told them to turn on the radio to hear us. As they turned it on, I could hear Kraddick already talking and then heard all of our voices. It was so cool! We were famous!
“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” ― Theodore Roosevelt