Echo Company Comes Home
I was just settling into the want-ads on Friday morning when I received a call
from the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipe & Drum Official Band Mom, Gywnne Gabbard.
She was on her way to Lima, Ohio in support of a CCP&D gig. Easy Company of the
237th BSB, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was rotating home. A contingent of
pipers had been requested to escort them to their families. She wanted to know
if I planned on covering it as the band photographer. I wasn't planning to do
so-- normally I cover the trips that my son, Angus, plays. He was in school. I
had not thought to accept the invitation. Then Gwynne explained that a bunch of
people had dropped out at the last minute. They really needed bagpipers. It hit
me that this was Angus' last day before Christmas Break. He was partying with
the rest of his classmates at the skating rink. It was worth a shot, trying to
make this work.
I threw what I could remember of Angus' kit in a clothes basket, and packed up
his bagpipes. The total kit is far more elaborate than normal street clothes--
about 20 items that all have to be just so. The bagpipes as well have to be
assembled from multiple sub-assemblies that are left apart for storage. I did
the best I could and then left the house. I phoned over to the rink and told
them to have Angus out of his skates in a half hour. I then told Band Mom to
divert slightly from her course and meet me at the rink.
It all went like clockwork. For a bunch of 5th graders, it was mighty exciting
to have yours truly show up in a trench coat, looking for his son. Rumors had
already spread among the kids. One group of girls came up to me and asked if it
was true that Brendan was being flown somewhere to play for the "Whole Army???"
As we walked out, the big white band van pulled up, and off we went. I had
managed to get most of the kit. Angus found only his band pin, worn on his tie,
and the flashes that the band wears as garters had been left home. We
rendezvoused near Mason, Ohio with two other pipers and a drummer and set off
for Lima, about 75 miles up the road.
James Riley, band president and the only drummer in attendance, promised this
was going to be a gig we would not forget. He is a member of
Rolling Thunder, a
veteran's group that rides motorcycles in support of POW/MIA issues. He tries to
play as many of these events as possible.
James was right. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. If you are looking
for America, looking for what we are as a people, looking for the reason we are in
deserts and jungles all over the world trying to give folks a taste of what we
have as free men, all I can say is that you need to contact your National Guard
and find out when a unit is rotating home. You will be glad you did.
As it was, a good part of Lima turned out for this. The Lima Convention Center
was packed. Of the 4 celebrations planned simultaneously in various parts of
Ohio that day, Echo Company's was the only one that was successful in getting
pipers. They were grateful. We were grateful.
Just a word as a proud father: Acting Pipe Major, Mark Morton, had Angus play a
solo for the guys as they were parading out. Suddenly several thousand heads
popped around to the back of the hall. Angus rocked them with Acid Piper and
really lit up the house.