Corporal Steven J. Ulrich holds up the banner family and friends greeted him with at Sacramento International Airport. Ulrich is a sniper scout with the U.S. Marines, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Division he arrived home earlier this month after having been deployed to Afghanistan since September 2011.
Friday the 13th was a lucky day for Steven Ulrich and his family as they welcomed their son, Cpl. Steven J. Ulrich, 24, home from Sangin, Afghanistan where he has been deployed since September.
Cpl. Ulrich, a sniper scout with the U.S. Marines, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Division returned to his family home in El Dorado Hills for a 96-hour leave before reporting to 29 Palms Marine Base where he is currently stationed.
“He was involved in a firefight just before he left and a guy in his unit was shot,” said his father, Steven W. Ulrich. “Things were pretty tense for his mother and me until we found out he was okay.”
“We met him at the airport with family and friends and we had a huge banner. When he stepped off the tram, all the people who had seen the banner erupted into applause. We were so glad to have him back,” Ulrich said. “He has had a lot of support from organizations in El Dorado County with letters, care packages and a Christmas tree. As part of an eight-man sniper unit operating in remote areas of Afghanistan, he only went back to a base every few weeks for mail and food, so it was always good to have things waiting for him to remind him of home.”
Cpl. Ulrich graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 2005 and joined the Marines in 2007 for a five-year hitch. He is working on the Marine Corps’ early-out program to be discharged three months earlier than his September discharge date so that he can start classes in Computer Science at San Jose City College and apply for the Marine Corps Leadership Scholar Program. Eventually, Cpl. Ulrich plans to return to El Dorado County and transfer to a college in the area. After getting his degree, he is considering joining the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to utilize the Close Quarter Battle techniques he learned in the military.
“I’d consider the most valuable part of my military experience to be developing skills in areas like critical thinking, leadership and public speaking. These skills translate into the civilian sector much more than … how to most efficiently clear a two story building of threats,” wrote Cpl. Ulrich in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat. He said the fighting he experienced on the deployment to Afghanistan was the most intense part of his military service. “There’s really no other feeling like the rush of combat and those experiences are something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Cpl. Ulrich’s unit may be returning to Afghanistan in 18 months, but, as he said, everything in the service changes. When his unit deploys this time, Ulrich will be taking his military experience into his future, safe at home.