Most of the stories are embarrassing moments he was sure his buddies would rather forget than tell his family. He stopped for a moment, then slowly continued, the hard ones were the ones about those unit members killed or wounded. This was his third tour of duty and he hoped his last overseas. During his time, the list of names had grown. The unit promised to keep writing the families during the holidays, if only to say hello and wish them well. It was a promise living up to their code Semper Fi, “always faithful.” It was a promise he kept with pride.
As we stood at the door together, waiting to pull into the station, he commented how nice it was to see snow; it had been a long time since he had seen snow. We departed the train, and I shook his hand and thanked him for his service. His eyes were smiling as he entered the cab, giving me a quick wave good-bye. Smiling on my drive home, I was thinking how happy this kid was going to make his grandmother. To be sure, this would be a special holiday for them both.