U.S. Marine Cpl. Christopher Boeche had more than enough hugs to give at his homecoming Wednesday in Carson City, with an especially long hug for his dad, Steve.
Boeche, 20, recently returned from a seven-month deployment to Iraq, where he was assigned to the 1st Force Service Support Group, Combat Service Support Group Ammo Detachment. Boeche, an ammunition technician, was responsible for issuing ammunition to everyone but air-wing units.
Smiles erupted on everyone’s faces as Chris drove into the family driveway with grandparents Darlene and Harold Boeche, and pointed to a welcome-home banner made by children at Bethlehem Lutheran School.
Boeche’s grandfather Dick Calihan and best friend, Dan Kihm, had just hung an American flag on the front of the home.
“Hi,” was all Chris said as family lined up for hugs. Kihm gave Chris a firm handshake.
Chris said all the military personnel onboard the 747 aircraft cheered as they left Iraq and cheered as they landed at March Air Force Base in Southern California.
“His arms got bigger – look at those biceps,” Kihm commented.
“So, like, were you happy to get rid of all your gear?” he asked.
“I was real happy to get rid of that rifle,” Chris said. “You have to take it everywhere with you; you even sleep with it. It has to be in arm’s reach at all times.”
Chris was at Camp Al-Taqqadum in Iraq, 37 miles west of Baghdad.
On Aug. 9, a rocket hit their ammunition storage just a few days before Chris and the detachment were to leave.
“We got out of there, quickly. The ammo burned for six hours.”
“This is a great answer to my prayers,” said Steve Boeche. “I’ve been praying every day (for him).
“They have good access to e-mail, and every few days he’d call or e-mail us and kept us posted on what was going on.
“He was in the thick of things. His job had kept him around base a lot. Then his sister, Jennifer, finally told us what was going on – that he volunteered to do this job of taking ammo. My wife and I were in a tizzy for a bit, but we’re just glad he’s home.”
Chris is a 2002 graduate of Carson High School. He is stationed at Camp Pendleton, to which he will return Sunday.
“I’m so happy he’s home,” said his mom, Kathy.
“You always fear something will happen, but we’re thankful he’s home with us.”
Chris’ first order of business is to consume 21 Blizzards at Dairy Queen with his buddy Kihm.
“Starting tomorrow, 21 Blizzards, man. You and me,” he said to Kihm.
Grandmother Pat Johnson said she’s going to have Chris make her a banana split milkshake.
“No one makes them like Chris,” she said. “He gets the ingredients just right.”
The east Carson City ice cream shop is owned by the Boeches.
On the road trip home from Camp Pendleton, Grandmother Darlene said Chris talked about his experiences in Iraq.
“He reminded me he was in a country of war,” she said. “He had to do what was asked of him. And he told us about the schools and libraries we’re building there. And that there is good happening there.
“He also said he had close calls and life-changing experiences. But he’s honored to be there.”
Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.