Family, friends, strangers and one special dog gathered at the Santa Maria Public Airport on Thursday afternoon to welcome home Navy corpsman David Oliver.

Barbara Romero of Orcutt said her son had one simple request.  “He said,’I just want to see my dog,'” she said as the yellow-haired Sly tugged at his leash while standing in the terminal.

The 23-year-old sailor assigned to the Marine Corps has spent the past seven months in Afghanistan and is home for several weeks.

The 2006 graduate of Righetti High School is the son and stepson of Barbara and Joseph Romero and son of Scott Oliver of Creston.  It’s a day the parents have eagerly waited for.  “Look at me,” an emotional Barbara Romero said.  “Oh lordy, I’ve been waiting for this for seven months,” Scott Oliver added.

A crowd of 75 people including members of American Legion Riders, Marine Corps League members, Welcome Home Troops and other veterans turned out to show support for the returning sailor.

“It’s emotional, it really is,” Scott Oliver said, looking at the sea of veterans armed with American flags and other signs to welcome his son home.

David Oliver will be on the Central Coast through Christmas and New Year’s Day, his mom noted.

“I’m just happy to have him back and out of harm’s way,” Scott Oliver added.

After seeing his family, David Oliver later greeted his supporters with hugs or handshakes.  “I really appreciate you guys all being here,” he said.

Before American Legion Riders escorted David Oliver to his home, a Welcome Home Troops representative presented him with a gift bag and signed flag.

“It was overwhelming,” David Oliver said, adding he was thankful for the greeting.  He added he hopes to consume “a lot of tri-tip” during his stint relaxing on the Central Coast while spending time with family and friends.  “Mostly I want to spend time with my dog,” he added.

By Janene Scully/Associate Editor janscully@santamariatimes.com Santa Maria Times | Posted: Friday, December 9, 2011 12:15 am