A surprise family reunion—Navy father returns home

Recently, I logged on to discover another story about a father serving in the United States Navy returning home after a six-month overseas deployment.

I’m a sucker for this genre of YouTube homecoming videos, because as I watch them I relieve that moment forty-seven years ago in December of 1966 when I returned home without warning at three in the morning after a combat tour in Vietnam. I wrote about my return in Coming Home. There was no YouTube back then.

It’s powerful moment to watch a family reunion when a military father or mother returns home from a dangerous war zone.  

However, this time I questioned why this homecoming should gain national attention in the media. What was unique about it?

Rachel Martin writing for Indiana News Center.com said, “First Class Petty Officer Scott McComas has been serving overseas on the island of Diego Garcia for the Navy Reserves. McComas says he’s been gone for a year, four times before.”

I was curious where he served the other four times. Maybe one or more of those deployments was in a more dangerous place than Diego Garcia.

The island of Diego Garcia is really remote and isolated.  It’s 1,970 nautical miles east of Africa, 967 nautical miles south-southwest of the southern tip of India and 2,550 nautical miles west-northwest of the West coast of Australia.

Princeton University Press says, “The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States. Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the base was a little-known launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured.”

In addition, the UK forcibly evicted/removed the 2,000 people who lived on Diego Garcia before the U.S. military moved in. Source: Global Post.com

For years I imagined the island of Diego Garcia was a desolate, freezing rock surrounded by nothing but a brutal, stormy ocean. Then I searched YouTube and discovered I was wrong—really wrong.

Diego Garcia is a tropical paradise with warm to hot temperature year around and if you watch the embedded video above you will discover breathtaking beaches and crystal clear water.

What about all the American troops who are serving in dangerous or risky overseas deployments? There are still 69,000 American troops fighting in Afghanistan; 15,000 are in Kuwait; 28,500 in South Korea not far from the threat of the lunatics in North Korea; 3,628 in Kyrgyzstan; 2,714 in Bahrain, and 806 in Qatar.  Source: U.S. Deployments Overseas

In fact, the vast majority of Navy deployments are at sea on Naval ships and submarines inside metal hulls. Some of those deployments are in dangerous waters like the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea.

Then again, maybe it was the uniqueness of that Indiana corn-maze that made this homecoming a worthy news item, and it really had nothing to do with a Navy father coming home from a tropical paradise. And it’s cute to watch a young daughter throw herself in her daddy’s arms because he’s been away from home for six months.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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