Okay, so Paul's change of command ceremony, where he relinquished command of his battery to another captain, was Friday morning. It was about 50 degrees and sunny but SO windy Paul was literally almost blown over while he was standing at attention as his award was read. Normally, an award isn't part of a change of command ceremony, but because (here it comes, just a warning) he's such a complete stud and the award is a pretty big deal, they chose to give it then. I was grateful for the wind because my older girls were too busy huddled up with our wonderful neighbors and their stadium blanket to hear the part where they read off what exactly Paul did to earn his gold star in lieu of second award and the combat V. (V is for valor.) It had to do with three different instances of Paul engaging the enemy and securing different bases, one where he put himself in the line of fire to allow his guys to get to safety and another patrol to safely pass (cue heart skipping a beat) and overall what has been referred to as "hero shit" by some of his Marines. Pardon the language. We held a little party at the community center of our neighborhood that night and I got to hear one of the lieutenants who deployed with him diagramming one particularly gnarly engagement with granola bars, beer caps and Doritos. That guy told me that my husband saved his life, and that there were a lot of people wearing that combat V on their chest because of him and that he (the lieutenant) was the Marine he is because he's "Fischer-trained."
That still brings tears to my eyes.
That's what Paul worked for with his guys. He wanted to bring them all home, which he did, and to have made a difference in their lives, which he did. He felt so good after the ceremony, just like anyone would who'd set a very high standard for himself and met each challenge. Pretty cool to end on such a high note. So now, some pictures!
The battery at formation. That is New River in the background and you can see the white caps from the crazy wind. These guys stood just like that with slight variations in saluting throughout the entire ceremony.
Fun fact: The Commandant of the Marine Corps just a few weeks ago issued an order that all Marines (with a few exceptions) have to wear this uniform on Fridays. Not only does it look really sharp, but unlike camis, there is no room to hide a set of love handles. The USMC isn't messing around with physical fitness - nor should they! You can't have a fighting force of fatties.
This is Paul receiving his award. The battalion Sergeant Major (left) and Battalion Commanding Officer (right) presented it to him. At this point, the Marine who had been Paul's battery Gunnery Sergeant was reading the list of dates and events that earned the award. I'm glad they waited for this ceremony because he never would have told me any of that stuff.
First Sergeant Smith bringing the guidon (the battery flag) to Paul.
Josh is a short guy, but he's also standing in a hole right here. He's not THAT short. Also, when Paul went to present the guidon to the new Captain, the flag whipped off that poor guy's hat (cover).
Sidebar - these cool guys wanted to run on the track that goes directly behind where the battery was formed, essentially interrupting the ceremony. They are getting what you would call an ass-chewing. Needless to say, we did not see them again.
Paul gave a wonderful speech. This is the part where he changed his tone of voice and addressed me and made me cry. There are lots of sweeping romantic moments afforded by the military lifestyle that aren't so readily available in civilian life, and having your husband say kind and lovely things to and about you in front of a bunch of people is one of them. It was too windy for me to have someone take a video, but it's okay; I will never forget that.
In the foreground are Rich, Brian and Tony and you see them watching me try to hold it together. Tim and Sherri are behind me with the big girls, Paul's boss from recruiting in Baton Rouge is next to them, and I'm sittng next to the bn Sgt Major, Kandis, the bn CO's wife and the bn CO.
They are such good friends! Brian's super blingy bars are so funny!
With Major Parrish. He's stationed here, and took time out of the day to come out. It meant a lot to Paul that he was there. They worked together really well in Louisiana and he's one of the guys Paul looks up to the most out of everyone.
With First Sergeant Smith! Okay maybe there IS that big of a difference in their heights...
The last time the battery roster will look like this.