Monday, February 20, 2006

15 Minutes of Fame on Tuesday

We departed Kuwait in the early hours of Wednesday, the 15th. A convoy of comfortable buses transported us from Camp Victory to the jumping off point for the chartered flight that would wing us home. There were the usual hurry up and wait moments, but spirits were high and the delays taken in stride. Our aircraft was a wide body civilian jet, and I had my first taste of being an officer; I got a seat in first-class.....NICE! Among the officers and senior NCOs sitting in luxury was a private first class. One of the gunnery sergeants orchestrating the seating went to the main cabin and asked for a volunteer. Initially no one responded, but a lowly PFC raised his hand and was rewarded with the last open seat in first-class.

Once airborne we learned that there would be a brief lay-over in Shannon, Ireland. My great-grandfather came over from the Emerald Isle in 1892, and the joy of heading home was heightened all the more by the realization that I would being setting foot for the first time on mother soil. We flew into Shannon before sunrise. As we descended beneath the clouds far below a lighthouse's rotating beacon fanning out across the ocean caught my eye and I felt my heart, in the words of James Joyce, "softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves".

The last couple days, courtesy of jet lag, have been a bit of a blur. Come this Wednesday our post-deployment processing will be completed and myself and travel companion, LtCol Craig Covert, a Marine Corps historian, will be returning to Quantico. My family has a welcome home party planned on the 25th for my nephew Joey and myself in our hometown in Pennsylvania. Joey, a 1st lieutenant with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, returned from Iraq back the end of January. As you can imagine, there is a great extended family of kith and kin breathing a collective sigh of relief.

On Friday Mike Phillips, the Wall Street Journal reporter I traveled with, informed me that an article he penned about yours truly is going to appear on the WSJ's page B-1 on Tuesday. So, I've got 15 minutes of fame to look forward to.

Here are the final pieces I produced in Iraq. I find myself already missing the exhausted resolute faces of fellow Marines, the scenes of commraderie and the rows of humble HESCO barrier encased tents.


Anonymous said...

Welcome home, old friend. I remember some of your drawings you made on the Guam on the 90-91 cruise, and I'm glad you are now completely free to concentrate on your passion for art.
Take care and God Bless.
Joey Byers

Carol said...


Congrats on the WSJ article. In my line of work that is the "Bible", of course, so you've officially "arrived".. (haha). I'll be interested to read it.

Glad to hear you are back home and getting readjusted. Continued success...still enjoying your posts and artwork very much.

Take care,

CJ said...

Happy you are safely home!!! I have been really enjoying your posts and pictures. Thank you for letting us get a glimpse of our heroes and what its really like for you all. God bless you beyond measure for everything you have given. You do us Proud! (Hope you will leave your blog up so we can keep coming back to look!)

Beth* A. said...

Welcome back! Thrilled for you that you got touch down in Ireland; I hope when you flew out again it was clear, and you were able to revel in that miraculous, bountiful green.

(Would've liked to have seen the face of that PFC when he found out just what he'd 'volunteered' for - what a sweet parting gift...;-))

Looking forward to that WSJ article, and glad you and your nephew are safely home once more.

Samantha West said...

Welcome home!


Michael said...

Nice to see your work getting some recognition -- which also recognizes those you served with.

Photographs are great. But, there is something about drawings that tends to "show" more than what the camera can.

A Marine at Heart said...

welcome home!!!
two of the most awesome words in the english language, eh?

enjoy your family time, and that big party!!!


David M said...

Welcome home Gunner! Thank you for your service and for showing us Iraq and the Marine's there in a different light.

I do hope to make your aquaintance in April at the convention.

dadmanly said...

Chief Fay,

Outstanding work, I commend both your dedication to the Corps and to your fellow service men and women.

Glad to see you registered at the upcoming conference; look to see more examples of your work.

God bless you and your efforts!

Mei-Ling said...

Here is the link to the WSJ article if your readers would like it.

Anonymous said...

Michael -

Welcome home and congratulations on your new found fame. I'm sure it will last more than 15 minutes.

Just read about the Farnsworth Exibit last year. As a former Marine officer, son of a "China Marine" and a Maine native, I am so proud that the Farnsworth showed your work. It is a lovely museum, despite the foolishness that might have occurred at the time. Although Jamie and Andrew would probably have their issues with military art, I'm sure NC would have been your greatest fan, and that is all that matters (illustrators being a superior breed... but then I'm prejudiced, as you will note from my name).

Thanks for your beautiful art, your service to our country and your obvious love and respect for our fellow Jarheads.

When you get the time, please let us know how we can purchase your work.

Semper Fi,

Rob Parrish

Cheryl said...

I will miss your artistic pictorial of life with Marines in Iraq. Yet it is nice to know you're home now, safe and sound.

Congratulations on the writeup. You deserve it!

Anonymous said...

welcome home and congratulations on WSJ's article
I really loved your drawings...

NOTR said...

Well you mention in the WSJ is nice, but the write up at Mudville Gazette resulted in finding your site.

Made many a stop in Shannon between CONUS and Germany over the years. I remember thinking that Ireland must hire only homely women to work in their airport. Years later when I visited Ireland I discovered it was true. The beauties are all at the Dublin Airport. :)

Laurie said...

Welcome Home! I have enjoyed your writing as much as your drawing.

Neets said...

you are an amazing artist! really goooood! some talent!

Beth* A. said...

'Keeper of the Flame':

Terrific article.

(Thanks much for providing the link, Mei-ling.)

GunnNutt said...

Phillips did a great job in the WSJ article.


Sandy Goldston said...

Mike, It is so good to see you back home again, safe and sound, and with that great smile on your face. I spotted you at the post office picking up a package, you were busy talking to one of your many fans so I didn't want to interrupt. Welcome home...

K T Cat said...

Welcome home, man. Thanks for everything.

Buck Pennington said...

Welcome Home, Mr. Fay! So glad you're home safe, so thankful for what you've given us.

Carol said...


Congrats on the War Through Their Eyes article in the March/April DAV magazine. Just finished reading it...very interesting. I like how it compares your battle experiences and artwork with Ed Reeps' ( an Army combat artist during WWII ).

Continued success! God Bless.

Bethany McGrath said...

You stand in a hazy middle ground where some don't want the beauty of art to be sullied by politics or war. I say, if not for this expression and others, what is art for? You do a service to all in both of your callings, art and military. We need people to remember who defends their liberties that allow them to speak against you. God bless.