LAKE ANN — Noah Pippin looks out from a photo on his parents' dining room wall, serious in Marine dress uniform. His old dog tags lie atop a guestbook on a nearby table.
Rosalie and Mike Pippin are in mourning of a sort. The Lake Ann couple hasn't seen or heard from their oldest son since he went missing in August 2010 after a visit home.
Noah, a 1998 Suttons Bay High School graduate and a former Marine who served three tours in Iraq, had recently quit the Los Angeles police force and was serving with the California National Guard. He was expected to be deployed to Afghanistan soon.
"He needed to shake his mind off and decide what he wanted to do with his life," said Rosalie. "His plan was to stay a week with us and then go back to San Diego ... until he picked up his orders."
During their week together the family fished, practiced at a shooting range, and visited their favorite beach and restaurants, Rosalie said. A noticeably depressed Noah, 31, stored his belongings in his parents' basement and closed out some online accounts. Then, on Aug. 25, he said goodbye in the family's driveway and rode off in a taxi for Traverse City, where he planned to rent a car for the trip back.
It wasn't until weeks later, when they got a call from the National Guard telling them that Noah failed to report for duty, that Mike and Rosalie learned their son was missing.
After another weekend went by without Noah reporting, the couple called the Michigan State Police. It was mid-October when the police got permission to investigate, Mike said. Michigan law prevented them from placing Noah on the National Crime Information Center, the central database for tracking crime-related information.