A return two years in the making
December 10, 2006
The only way Carla McClelland could see her son for the last two years, was by looking at his pictures.
Since he left for basic training in 2004, Michael DeWitt Jr.’s only communication with his family has been through e-mail or the occasional phone call.
That is until he walked down the terminal at Reno/Tahoe International Airport on Sunday afternoon to be greeted by his family. He arrived home courtesy of a 13-hour flight from Okinawa to mainland Japan to San Francisco to Reno.
During his absence he spent time in seven countries, including an eight-month stint stationed in Al Taqaddum and Al Asad, Iraq, that ended in October.
Cpl. DeWitt, 21, is a member of the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, an intelligence support unit based in Okinawa, Japan. He was stationed in Virginia Beach before being transferred to Okinawa.
The 2003 Carson High graduate is scheduled to spend the next 30 days in his hometown, spending time with family and friends.
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“That’s the one thing you really leave behind and let go, is your friends. You are over there and they are back home living their lives here,” DeWitt said.
In choosing military service, DeWitt followed in the footsteps of his older brother Justin, who spent eight years in the navy and remains in the Naval Reserve.
“The navy was what I originally tried to sign up for, but they didn’t have what I wanted to do,” DeWitt said. “I went in to set a positive role model for my (younger) brother and after Sept. 11, I just wanted to do something.”
His parents said that once DeWitt sets his mind to something, his determination carries him through and they supported him in his decision.
“It’s a good thing, a good direction for a young man,” said Michael DeWitt Sr.
While he doesn’t like to talk about his time in Iraq, he does vividly remember some of the local wildlife.
“Visualize a scorpion without the tail or the pinchers that is the size of (a small table). That’s a camel spider, they’re huge and they attach to the bottom of camels and just slowly eat them,” DeWitt said.
Once he returns to Japan, DeWitt is set to go to the Philippines and travel to the area near North Korea.
After he completes the last six months of his tour, DeWitt said he hopes to open his own car audio store and installation stop.
But as of Saturday night, DeWitt was looking forward to only one thing, dinner with his family.
“I finally get to have a drink with my son,” McClelland said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.