Sgt. Louie Varias is happy to be home for the first time since Thanksgiving. And although he is happy to see his family, Varias also missed his guitar.
“First thing I’m going to do when I get home,” said the 2003 Ward Melville High School grad, is “I’m gonna pull out the guitar, my lonely guitar.”
Varias, 26, who has been serving in Germany and Iraq for nine years, was welcomed home Thursday by his family at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma as part of the Hometown Hero Welcome Back ceremonies started by Islip Town Councilman Gene Parrington.
Parrington, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War, suffered two injuries during his service. Family and friends greeted him when he returned, but many others came home to no welcome and a country that was angry at them.
“I said if I ever got into a position to do something, I would,” Parrington said.
Varias says the military runs in his blood.
His stepfather, Ronald McClean, 57, of East Islip served in Japan for 22 years in the Navy where he met his wife, a Red Cross volunteer, in 1988. McClean's daughters, Luviminda, 30, and Loryn, 20, followed in their father's footsteps and joined the Navy.
“I’m absolutely very proud,” McClean said about his stepson and daughters. “It does good things, it gives you an education and gives you respect for your country.”
Varias will be home for 10 days and will then go to Louisiana, were he will be stationed for a year. And he has no plans to leave the service anytime soon.
“The military is part of our lives,” said his mother, Beatriz McClean, 46. “I was proud I was a military wife and now I’m proud I’m a military mother.”
Varias joined the Army for the adventure and excitement. But he looks forward to spending time with his family and strumming his guitar.
“It feels great to be home,” Varias said. “It’s been several years since I have actually stayed in the States, so it feels outstanding.”