Troops families sadness felt first hand
Published 3:58 am Monday, February 14, 2005
The brisk wind cut through you like a knife and the light rain pelted you like tiny pellets.
A cold, dark cloud slowly crept over the small town of Atmore as townspeople prepared for one of the biggest days in years.
The troops were finally coming home.
Family and friends lined the roadway leading to the National Guard Armory and filled the parking lot anxiously awaiting the arrival of their loved one. Most would agree that it wasn't a picture-perfect day, but the troops all agreed it was the brightest they had seen in over a year.
Even though Jan. 28 merely marked my second week in this friendly city, the glow of the rosy-cheeked children and the cold tears of the spouses so eager to catch a glimpse of their special someone exit the chartered buses put a chill down my spine. It wasn't the sharp wind or the chilling drizzle; it was the sense we all had; being proud to be an American.
Not knowing how it felt to have someone you love leave for so long the emotions didn't flow from me like they did those that had to endure that long wait. Restless nights and uncomfortable days without that someone special had to be overwhelming to say the least. Seeing your troop step foot in Atmore once again was sure to unleash the emotions built up inside.
Honestly, I even shed a tear. The lump in my throat began to develop as soon as the buses topped the hill and passed under the huge welcome home sign draped over the roadway by two power trucks. The American flags began to flap and the cheers erupted. It was a sight for hundreds of sore eyes and sounds their ears.
The buses quickly whipped into the parking lot of the Armory as mobs of family and friends filed in behind them. When the exhaust smoke cleared the mob could be seen in full stride sprinting to their loved one.
It was moving to see the line formed in the auditorium of the Armory full of young and old alike, flags in hand. Each were eager to welcome home America's finest. The troops made their way through the crowd and filed into formation one last time and the reunions began.
Atmore's heroes were home at last. Heroes to community for their service to our country and heroes to their children because they keep monsters out of the closet.
Friday afternoon the pain felt by those who had loved ones overseas became a reality. My brother U.S. Army CPT Alan Hicks received a telegram activating him to duty. It hit my family hard since he had already fulfilled his service to the Army. When asked he told me since he was an officer, he can be called back to duty any day, at any time.
Alan will report to Fort Jackson, S.C. on March 13 and a few weeks later to Fort Bragg, N.C. for out-processing. The paperwork he received stated that he is ordered to serve no more than 545 days.
Even though it hurts, my brother has always been dedicated to everything he has set his mind to doing. Beginning in high school with his desire to speak Spanish fluently and his interest in medicine. Less than 10 years later, he became the commander of a Spanish-speaking Army unit specializing in epidemiology, the branch of medicine that investigates the causes and control of epidemics. His day job is working as an organ procurement specialist for Alabama Organ Centers.
Knowing his strong work ethic and desire to succeed, I'm confident Alan will be safe, but he will be sorely missed. It is without a doubt he will be a great service to the Army and will do so proudly.
God bless him, 711th Signal Battalion and everyone else currently serving our country.
Adam Prestridge is president/publisher of The Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly.