MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Five workers deployed from Maintenance Center Albany to overseas duty in support of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles returned home Friday at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany, Ga.
They had been away from home for periods ranging from three months to a year.
“My son, Richard Daniel Creech, has been gone for six months of service in Iraq,” said Janice Barfield of Sylvester, Ga., as she awaited the plane’s arrival. “It’s been emotional, real emotional for me. This is the first time he’s ever been away from home. He’s got a little boy who’s a year old now and he missed Christmas and his first birthday with him.”
While some people at the airport were there to greet the returning workers, coincidence played a role for another one.
“I’m here because I’m on the way to a conference in Washington and I hope to have a minute to greet them when they come in,” said Michael Rogers, president, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2317, at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
While deployed, two workers found out they are cousins
“I found out Richard Creech was a cousin of mine,” said Keith Taylor of Albany, Ga. “When we got over there to Iraq, I told him I’d treat him like my son, and said ‘you look at me like I’m your daddy’ and I took care of him the whole time we were over there.
“Then, just a few weeks ago, we got to talking about kinfolks, and discovered that we were related as distant cousins because of our family relations in a number of counties around Southwest Georgia.”
Taylor said his work overseas was rewarding.
“We talked to Marines and soldiers whose life had been saved because they were in MRAPs and that made us feel great about the work we did,” he explained.
While working to support the warfighter was their number one task while deployed, Taylor, like other returning Americans, spoke fondly of how many of the local citizens made it clear how much they appreciated the efforts the American’s and others were making toward bringing peace and stability to their part of the world.
“So many local people told us how much they loved us because we were Americans and were helping them,” Taylor said.
Dad sees son for first time in six months
When Richard Creech deployed six months ago, his son, Landon, was six months old. The child’s first Christmas and first birthday passed while Creech was deployed, and Creech planned to make up for it once things settled down following his return.
“It was a wonderful job over there, we got to support the troops,” he said. As far as plans beyond his family and home-cooked food, Creech said he 'hadn’t decided yet.’
Whatever his homecoming plans for Landon and Landon’s mother, Kayla Phillips, it would be a welcome change from the day-to-day routine he experienced while deployed overseas.
For Creech’s mother, Janice Barfield, the thought of her son’s return turned emotional as she waited for the airplane to arrive.
“I’ll just be so glad when he’s here,” she said.
Fishing popular with two returnees
One returnee, Tommy Kates, who deployed for six months, returned to the United States for rest and recuperation, then returned to overseas duty for the past year.
“It was good food over there. I missed being home, but the food was good,” he said.
Eugene Prince, Albany, Ga., also deployed for almost a year to the same location as Kates, with trips home for R & R.
“I missed fishing,” he said. “We couldn’t go fishing over there, but we’re ready now. Tommy and I are probably heading over the Lake Blackshear.”
MCA commander true to pledge
When Col. Terry W. Reid, commander, MCA, assumed his post in July 2009, he pledged to be at the airport to greet returning MCA workers and participate in the send-off of those leaving for overseas duty.
“Any time we have departures or arrivals, and I’m in town, it’s on my schedule to be here,” he said after greeting the returning workers at the airport. “Every time I’ve been in town, I’ve been here even if I had to cut out a senior-level meeting so I could come out here to the airport.”
Reid has a message and token of his appreciation for each worker.
“First, I thank them for their service, then I present our civilian-Marines with a commander’s coin for their service,” he explained.
Additionally, when the workers return to work following leave from their overseas duty, Reid said they are presented with a Global War on Terrorism award signed by Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps.
Reid’s presence at Friday’s return of MCA workers kept his pledge true.