Echo Company
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Echo Company Comes Home


Angus' Dad

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.


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