The day started out bright and early by Taylor's standards, but she was rearing to go! The day started with her going to the chow hall and eating and she liked it! There were a lot of stares her way, but by now, she was used to it and she held her head high and she strutted as she walked.
After chow, it was off to the raising of the morning colors at MCIEAST and she met 2 Sgt. Majors and was given special coins by them. She stood tall and proud as the flags were raised. When that was done, she was presented a flag that was flown in her honor in Iraq, very cool!
Then it was off to MOUT (military operation on urban terrain) There are 2 cities made up like in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before hand, she got the facts on what they do and how they do it, she was shown the weapons and how they are used (the weapons are real only outfitted to shoot paint ammo). Once this was done, a very brave Marine stood up and allowed her to shoot him up very close with the weapon and paint ammo. He put on his face gear and vest, stood in front of her, then thought better of it and walked over and put on an extra piece of 'protection' WHEW! Lucky for him, she hit him right on the vest.
She toured the cities and it was fascinating. It was almost a bit eerie though. I know as a civilian, it is hard to picture just exactly what our troops face. Get out in a city like that and walk around and suddenly, you become very aware of just how bad it is and just how dangerous it is. They showed us an underground tunnel and it was small and it was dark. It was explained how our guys go right in there, then they asked if Taylor wanted to. That is the ONE time she opted to be a civilian!!! It was a no go! It was very interesting there and seeing the new city that was just built, we pray the training our troops get there will save many lives.
After that was over, it was on to more shooting. This time, Taylor took on a 9mm pistol, M 16 again, a shotgun, and the SAW. She loved them all and she man handled that shotgun! Once again, the instructor gave the go ahead for the rest of the Marines to 'play' and they all did not hesitate again!
Once we were done, they took her to a room and it was lunch time. MRE style. She tried, she really did. She ate a bit of chicken and something we could not identify. They warmed up some minestrone for her, but she looked at it and said "I can't do it"! While we were there, out of the blue, I got a phone call from SSGT. Merizalde. He is the one that put together Taylor's trip to the National Naval Medical Center while we were in Washington. He had no idea this was all going on, so he sure was shocked and delighted when I told him what was going on. Taylor was interviewed by the base TV station.
We were driven around the base some more and were just able to take in the sights. She also got to go to the PX and I think she could have spent hours in there. Boring for just about anyone that has to go there, but to her, it was like a toy store!
Then we got to spend some more time at the Wounded Warrior Barracks. They have a pool table in one of the common area's and she asked if anyone was up for a game. A young Marine took her on and she won (although I do believe he let her have this one, as we watched him play again and he started to do trick shots, but only he knows for sure if she really beat him) It was so fun to watch the guys let her be one of them.
Taylor and I went out to make a nature call and as we came back in, some of the guys in charge were in their office area. Taylor got called over and meet Gunnery Sergeant Willis. She talked to him for a few minutes and he told her that it would not do that she was a Sergeant. He took her to his desk and asked if he could take off her Sgt. chevrons. The look on her face, she thought he was taking them away from her, she really did. He then promoted her to Gunny and replaced her Sgt. chevrons with ones that had just a few more stripes on them! The look on her face was just priceless and I think she actually couldn't breathe for a few seconds! You all know Taylor, on the outside she tries to be that stone faced Marine, but as you can tell from the picture, she was starting to crack just a bit!
When she walked back into the common room and the guys saw she got promoted, boy did the razzing begin! They wanted to congratulate her the Marine way, but MOM (me) gave them all a stern look! LOL
Sgt. Holtzinger told her he had something for her. He asked if she knew where Tikrit was then told her he had a flag from there and he wanted her to have it. But she could only have it if she could stop smiling and do a mean warrior face, she tried but then broke out in a smile.
I am going to be pushy on this and I hope I do not offend any of you, but we really are asking for help in raising funds for the Wounded Warriors, their needs and their families needs through Hope for the Warriors. There is such a outpouring for those that are in Iraq and Afghanistan right now in the form of care packages and such a showing of respect for those that give the ultimate sacrifice. I personally know that our family has sent many care packages and are a part of the Patriot Guard Riders and have attended many funerals. It however, wasn't until we went to Washington and visiting the NNMC that we realized there is a whole other need out there and that is for our wounded. PLEASE help Taylor in her newest mission in securing funds for them. I have our address posted below from a few earlier posts. We thank you for helping.