Colonel Michael Halt home from Afghanistan to a warm welcome


West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt returned to Martha’s Vineyard Sunday, April 10, after completing a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. He is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves.

A 21-year veteran of the Marines and its reserves, his deployment in January 2010 was the second time he was called up since his appointment as West Tisbury School’s principal in 2004.

Colonel Halt was assigned as the Senior Marine Liaison Officer in Kabul, where he worked closely with the NATO staff at the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC). At IJC he represented Lt. Gen. Richard Mills and the 19,000 Marines conducting counter-insurgency operations in the Helmand Province.

Colonel Halt flew from Afghanistan on March 25 to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. His wife Laurie, assistant superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools, and his stepson Cooper Johnson, a student at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., were there to surprise him.

Colonel Halt spent two weeks in a transition program and demobilization process before he and Mrs. Halt returned to Martha’s Vineyard.

On Tuesday evening, Colonel Halt attended West Tisbury’s annual town meeting, where moderator Pat Gregory welcomed him home and led the audience in a round of applause that turned into a standing ovation.

“It caught me by surprise,” Colonel Halt said in phone conversation with The Times yesterday. “I was very touched. That was a very nice thing for Pat and the entire West Tisbury community to do.”

West Tisbury School plans a school celebration to welcome Mr. Halt back on on April 27, according to Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, who has served as interim principal in his absence. The celebration begins at 9 am, with everyone outside to greet Mr. Halt. Following an assembly in the gym, Mr. Halt will visit all the classrooms.