An Oklahoma Marine returned home Wednesday night. It was his first tour, but for his family the call to duty began with the Vietnam War. News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports their snap shots of war and a family tradition that began 40 years ago.
"Oh golly, I can't. It's just myself all over. I didn't know they were going to do it. They kind of both surprised me. Especially Mark," said Doug Gray.
Like his dad and brother before him, Mark Gray was determined to become one of the few and the proud. He signed up a year ago.
"It really scared me at first. I knew where he'd go. They say he wouldn't go anywhere for a year, but he graduated in February and in August he left," said Mark's mom.
Now seven months later, the youngest in a long line of Marines is finally home, greeted with a hero's welcome. It's a stark contrast to the homecoming his father received in 1968 when he returned from Vietnam.
"I was spit at. It really wasn't rememberable. Coming back wasn't good," said Doug Gray.
At 21, Doug Gray says the rejection was hard to take, but seeing his youngest son's warm reception helps him heal. Especially since like his father, Mark is fighting in what has become an unpopular war.
"It's a different war. Vietnam is something people don't like talking about. This is a political war, too, maybe more so than Vietnam, but the kids are sent over there with feeling rather than why do you or we got to go," said Doug Gray.
And even though Mark will have to go back. This family says it's not worried.
"I said my husband came back, my first son came back, and I know Mark is going to come back. You just have to believe that and just pray every day," said Mark's mom.
Mark will be home for three weeks. He plans on spending a lot of time getting to know his eight week old daughter.
Find more stories on NewsOn6.com's Local News page.