Military Feature: Marine home for holidays

CNJ staff photo: Gabriel Monte Lance Cpl. Ryan Blacklock surprised his family by coming home for Christmas. Ryan, a graduate of Choices Alternative School, stands with, from left, his father Ronnie, sister Nichole, wife Krystal, mother Rebecca and sister Tia in their Clovis home.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

All Rebecca Blacklock wanted for Christmas was a phone call from her son, Ryan Blacklock, who has been serving a tour in Iraq for the past eight months.

But what stood on her door was better than any gift she could ever receive: A bouquet of roses and Ryan, holding them.

Her son, a 19-year-old Marine lance corporal, came home for the holidays Dec. 7 after working with security forces in the Al Anbar province with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.

“He asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I said I have everything I ever wanted: You home and safe,” said Rebecca.

Ronnie Blacklock said his family broke into tears when Ryan came home.

Even the family dogs Princess, a German shepherd, and Ozzy, a blue heeler, missed him.

“They knocked him down when they first saw him,” he said.

Ronnie said his family was preparing their first Christmas without Ryan.

Rebecca said she was preparing a care package from him when he called with news that he was coming home for Christmas.

She said she didn’t believe him until he showed up at the door. It was the first time she had seen her son since his graduation from boot camp in August 2006.

Ryan enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2006 after graduating from Choices Alternative School.

Ryan is the second member in his family who served in the military. His grandfather, Ronnie M. Blacklock, retired as a master sergeant after spending 39 years in the Air Force. He lives with his wife, LaRue, in Portales.

Ryan’s father said the Marine Corps has changed his son physically. He said he could barely lift his son’s bag when he showed up at the door.

But the impressive change was in his attitude.

“He didn’t used to take orders before,” said Rebecca. “Now he takes orders very well. The first time I heard him say, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ just about floored me.”

Ryan returns to Iraq Jan. 4. Before that, Ronnie said, the whole family will spend as much time with him as possible.

But right now, Ryan said he is just happy to be home.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” he said.

The one person he missed the most was his wife, Krystal, whom he married last year. The two Choices graduates will celebrate their first anniversary on Sunday.

“I’m glad to have him home in one piece,” she said.