Marine celebrates Christmas in Iraq | NevadaAppeal.com

Marine celebrates Christmas in Iraq

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Cpl. Chris McGuire

It’s not like Chris McGuire is doing anything special this Christmas.

He’s only flying missions as the crew chief of a USMC MV-22 Osprey in Iraq.

And he’s only the fourth-generation of Marines from his Carson-based family to serve overseas during the Christmas season.

That’s all.

“It’s something we’re extremely proud of him for,” said his grandmother Barbara McGuire. “He just kind of floundered around for a little while a couple years after high school. We said ‘Why don’t you go use the Millennium Scholarship and go to school?’

“He decided to enlist in the Marines instead.”

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That was in 2004. Since then, Cpl. McGuire, 24, has gone from boot camp grunt to crew chief of his aircraft and has aspirations to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering and eventually certify to fly the controversial hovering plane.

“After his tour is up I think he wants to re-enlist,” said his father, Michael McGuire, a Carson resident of 30 years, who described his son as “ambitious” and “someone who always finds a way to succeed.”

“He’s looking ahead to his future, so he’ll just keep marching right along,” Michael said. “He’s always a been a bright kid. We’re very proud of him.”

Proud, indeed.

Grandfather Robert McGuire, also a Carson City resident for three-plus decades, recently sent his grandson an e-mail recalling his own experiences fighting a war abroad during the Christmas season.

“I was a Marine too,” Robert said. “I understand a lot of what he’s going through. When you’re going through it – away fighting a war when you should be home – you don’t really think about it so much.

“That’s your commitment. That’s what you’ve signed up to do. That’s where your mind is. I think, with hindsight, if you’re one of those lucky enough to come home – you really realize where you’ve been and what you’ve been through.”

Robert’s e-mail to his grandson recalled Christmas 1953 – serving during the Korean War:

“I was with the Headquarters Company, Third Marine Division, Gifu, Japan. I had the great luck of pulling guard duty that night. It was a cold night and I had a walking post guarding a building that had a big chain-link fence around it. There was one big floodlight by the front door. The shooting had ended in Korea, but everyone was a bit nervous, so security was tight.

“During my time on post, it started snowing big, soft snowflakes. It really made everything so peaceful and quiet. It gave me a chance to think about home and wonder what everyone was doing. I also thought about my brother, Jim, and what he said about his December with the First Marine Decision, Korea, 1950. He said very little, but had explained that they marched by day and fought the Chinese by night. He told me about his guard duty and how tough it was to stay awake. To keep his mind active, he would recite the Lord’s Prayer over and over.”

Since deploying to Iraq in September, Chris’ crew was the first to fly the Osprey as an organized squadron … which makes him a small part of military history.

The Osprey, which looks like a helicopter/plane hybrid, has both vertical and short take-off and landing capabilities. Manufactured by Bell Helicopter in partnership with Boeing, the craft’s development budget, first set at $2.5 billion in 1986, ballooned to more than $30 billion by the late ’80s.

When Chris’ crew flew the MV-22 in October, Time Magazine published a story calling the aircraft unsafe, overpriced and completely inadequate. The Marine Corps denounced the article noting the news magazine’s data was inaccurate.

Controversy notwithstanding, members of the McGuire family said they don’t worry about the plane’s safety or its checkered origins.

“I mean face it, there’s an element of danger every time you go up,” father Michael said. “He is lucky to be a part of a brand-new outfit, with this Osprey.

“We looked into the safety and history – at the same time this was the second iteration of the bird. You can’t be too quick to judge – anything that’s out there flying can come down.”

Grandfather Robert said he was “proudest (his) grandson could fly a new plane.”

“I don’t think anyone from Carson or Northern Nevada is on his squadron,” he said. “So Chris’ flight is a real first.”

Michael, who did not serve in the military (Chris’ great-grandfather was a Marine in World War I) said he never felt the call to duty during peacetime.

“I guess it skipped a generation, kind of like baldness,” he said.

While noting concern upon hearing the news that his son wanted to enlist during wartime, Michael said he did not encourage or dissuade Chris from following family footsteps into the Marines.

“Our family has a military background, yes,” he said. “But Chris has always been his own person. People try to make too much of it. He felt he wanted to serve and wanted a future, so he did.”

Family, friends and neighbors have let the McGuire’s know of their appreciation for Chris’ effort abroad. And the simple Christmas for Peace on Earth rings even more true this year than in years past, Michael said.

“As his family, of course we’d like to have him home for Christmas,” he said. “But, like anyone else in our situation, we hope and pray for his safety and we look forward to his return.

“We’re like any other family this time of year. We hope to be back together soon. We pray for Chris, who is serving his country. And we appreciate the sacrifice that he, and so many others are making.”

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.