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A Father's Return

Bikes with training wheels decked out in stars and stripes, and little red wagons adorned with miniature American flags and patriotic balloons circled the parking lot of the Island Lutheran Preschool.


Preschoolers honor Marine with parade

BY PETER FROST, The Island Packet
Published Tuesday, February 28, 2006
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The miniature parade held Monday was to honor Capt. Glenn Mariott, a Bluffton Marine who just returned from a yearlong stint in Iraq.

The 26 pint-sized participants between the ages of 3 and 5 -- all wearing homemade red, white and blue shirts and hats -- followed behind the uniformed Mariott, who walked hand in hand with his daughter, Kristen, a student at the school.

"It was a great event, and it was very important to Kristen because her dad was away for so long," said Deiha Torin, director of the preschool, who organized the parade. "She was excited, we were excited and all of the kids were so excited."

As children waved flags and rode around the lot, parents and staff applauded and thanked Mariott for his service.

Photo: Wearing homemade red, white and blue shirts, Island Lutheran Preschool students Makenna Mitchell, 4, and Tessa Roeder, 3, march Monday afternoon in the school's parade.
Harmony Motter/The Island Packet
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Mariott returned from Iraq on Feb. 16 and now lives in Hidden Lakes with his wife, Angela, and two children, Kristen, 5, and John, who turns 2 in April.

"It's such a wonderful feeling knowing all of the friends and family that have supported me," Mariott said.

"It's an honor for me to be here. It's a pretty cool thing knowing that people appreciate the things we're doing."

He first visited the classroom during a short leave in November and talked to the children about his life in the Marines as a Tactical Air Command Center senior watch officer. He ensures that broken aircraft receive repair parts so they can return to flight as quickly as possible.

He was stationed at Al Asad Airfield, the second largest air base in Iraq, located about 110 miles northwest of Baghdad. His daughter's class sent care packages, which included banners the students made at school, potato chips, mouthwash, candy, Gatorade, photos and cards. Parents of the students donated the supplies, and the school took care of sending the packages.

Photo: Capt. Glenn Mariott, a Marine from Bluffton, has a laugh while visiting with Island Lutheran preschoolers before a patriotic parade held Monday in his honor.
Harmony Motter/The Island Packet
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"It's pretty tough being away from your family for so long," Mariott said. The care packages "are just a small piece of home -- the creature comforts --that are so nice to have when you're over there."

He's been based out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort for about 18 months -- 12 of which he spent overseas. The parade was sort of a "welcome to your new home parade" rather than a "welcome home parade," Mariott said.

During his deployment in Iraq, his family moved from Beaufort into a new home in Bluffton. He says he plans to spend a lot of time landscaping this spring.

Most importantly, he said, he wants to get to know his family again.

His son has learned to walk and talk, and his daughter missed playing basketball with him.

"I can't tell you how great it is to be able to spend time with my family again," Mariott said. "It's a wonderful, wonderful thing."

Contact Peter Frost at 706-8169 or pfrost@islandpacket.com.