Marine Cpl. Christopher G. Singer, 23, of Temecula, was welcomed home with all due honor and respect this morning on the flight line at Los Alamitos Army Airfield on the grounds of Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base.
Flags decorated Lexington Drive south from the main entrance as far as the turn to detour around construction. The Stars and Stripes and the California Bear flag hung at half mast at the center of the base. Firemen from the base’s own fire station readied a flag to fly from their truck.
Dozens gathered to see Cpl. Singer come home. Active-duty military. Retired veterans. Local public safety personnel. Local elected officials. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders. Nearby residents. Reporters and camera crews.
The Kalita Charter jet arrived ten minutes early, dropping from a sky partly covered in high thin clouds.
Uniformed personnel fell into formation as the plane taxied from the far end of the runway. By the time the plane parked in front of the control tower, everyone was as ready as they ever would be.
A surprising quiet settled over the assembly as the plane’s engines shut down, so quiet that the sobs of a family member could be heard when the hatch popped open.
Flight crew members debarked the flag-draped gray coffin. Marines escorted three family members to the coffin for as private a welcome home as could be had with dozens of people and a handful of news crews watching.
The sobbing started up again. It was a long time before the Marines escorted the family members back toward the control tower.
seven-member nine-member Marine detail carried Cpl. Singer’s coffin from the plane to a white hearse as military personnel saluted and civilians watched somberly. The marching cadence of the Marines could be heard clearly in the still air.
As the Marine detail stepped back from the hearse, the command to fall out was ordered.
The sound of sobbing was lost in the noise of the assembly dispersing.
The hearse was escorted from the Joint Forces Training Base by the Patriot Guard Riders.
A news crew interviewed Lt. Col. (ret.) Tom Lasser. Another crew managed to find a family member willing to talk.
Packed up and leaving the base, the Channel 4 news van drove past the two male platoons — Wolf Pack! Chargers! — of the Sunburst Youth Academy. Dressed in their distinctive gray uniforms, the cadets were assembling after class to march back to the far side of the base for lunch.
A handful of base personnel walked over to get something to eat at Fiddler’s Green.
So routine re-asserted itself, until the next time.
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