U.S. Army, U.S.Cavalry Group – Cavalry Scout
and Master Gunner
War in Afghanistan (2009-2012)
He left more than a year ago, a young man dedicated to protecting the freedom Americans enjoy here at home even if it meant traveling halfway around the globe to do so. He returned home to Marin County last weekend to a hero’s welcome, a U.S. Army cavalry scout cloaked in Old Glory and celebrated for his dedication and commitment.
Russell McCoy, a 2008 graduate of Sir Francis Drake High School, arrived at San Francisco International Airport last Saturday, made his way to a central meeting place in Mill Valley and then was escorted nearly 20 miles to Petaluma for a welcome-home party.
After all was said and done, his mother, Lauren Shields of Larkspur, could hardly contain herself. “I’m flying at 30,000 miles right now,” Shields said. “I can’t believe he’s finally home.”
McCoy left about a year ago for his deployment in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan. He served as a scout with an Army reconnaissance unit. He rode to his welcome-home party in a shiny silver Corvette, the centerpiece of an elaborate motorcycle escort, many of the riders carrying flowing American flags.
“I will never forget the day Russell deployed, and I certainly will never forget the day he was welcomed home by his new brothers and sisters of service,” Shields wrote on a Warriors’ Watch Riders blog Monday.
“I feel truly blessed that we have a community so full of wonderful patriots. The Shields [and] McCoy families have still not come down to earth yet. Your mission [Saturday] marked an end of a long tunnel for me, but also the beginning of a bright new chapter in Russell’s life.”
Riders from Warriors’ Watch, Patriot Guard, Rip City and the American Soldier Freedom groups escorted family and friends from Mill Valley to Petaluma for the celebration.
As the procession made its way through central San Rafael, a group of friends held signs and banners saluting the Marin soldier. Members of the San Anselmo American Legion Auxiliary Unit 179, where Shields is a member, organized the show of support.
The unit arranged earlier this year to mail care packages to soldiers serving abroad in forward operating bases. They also provided support to mothers like Shields, with troops overseas and in harm’s way.
“Russell has become a man of service and I’m looking forward to watching him pick up the reins of leadership in our community and devote a portion of his life to the support of fellow veterans,” Shields wrote on the Warriors’ Watch blog.
For now, the Shields-McCoy families and friends can enjoy the days and weeks of rest and relaxation. Their soldier and friend is finally home.
Interview by Joe Wolfcale, Bay Area Journalist, on June 29, 2011.