Home for the holiday

Published 6:23 pm Monday, November 28, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
The War in Iraq overshadowed Thanksgiving for many Atmore families last year as their loved ones were on a tour of duty with the 711th Signal Battalion in Iraq.
Once again, the war is weighing heavy on the mind of another Atmore family this Thanksgiving, as their oldest son awaits an early December departure for Iraq.
Sgt. John Rehorn, 22, is the oldest son of Atmore residents, Jeff and Pam Rehorn.
Rehorn is a native of Jackson, Miss., moving to Atmore when he was a young teen. Rehorn's mother, Pam, is an Atmore native. John attended school at ECMS and then graduated from ECHS in 2001. He played for four years as the third baseman on the Blue Devils' baseball team.
Rehorn has been in the United States Army for the past three years serving as an MP (military police). Two of the three years were spent overseas in the South Pacific serving a tour of duty in the Republic of South Korea.
"I have been to Korea, Japan, Guam and Saipan," Sgt. Rehorn said. "While I was in Korea, I did a lot of security detail for visiting U.S. dignitaries like the President and Vice President, and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell."
Sgt. Rehorn is currently at home on leave from his stationed base at Fort Benning in Georgia. Sgt. Rehorn will be leaving the states in the early part of December with his final destination being in Iraq on or around Dec. 23 or 24.
"I've known that I would be going to Iraq since July," Sgt. Rehorn said. "The training I have prepares me for my job over there, but as far as emotionally, you can't ever be prepared for that."
Sgt. Rehorn serves as a team leader among his platoon in the 988th Company and will be working as an escort for convoys while in Iraq as well as helping apprehend members of the coveted 'Most Wanted' list of individuals believed to have heavy ties with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Sgt. Rehorn's parents are not strangers to the military lifestyle. His father, Jeff, served in the United States Navy completing a tour of duty in Korea and Vietnam.
"It is really something, because John went to Korea, 30 years to the month from the same time I deployed to Korea," Jeff Rehorn said. "And now he is leaving for Iraq 32 years to the month from when I went to Vietnam."
Sgt. Rehorn wanted to follow in his father's military footsteps on land instead of over water. He chose the army over his father's choice of the Navy.
"I wanted to join the service to go places," Sgt. Rehorn said. "I wanted to see things that I'd never see around here. I chose the Army over Navy because I didn't want to be on a boat or an airplane. I wanted my feet on the ground."
According to Sgt. Rehorn, he will be attending school when he returns from Iraq. He will train for a year to master the art of jumping from an airplane.
Sgt. Rehorn took time out of his Thanksgiving break to visit his younger brother, Nicholas, 8, in his fourth grade classroom at A.C. Moore Elementary on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
The students in Mrs. Cathy Coley's fourth grade class were full of questions for Sgt. Rehorn as he visited with them Tuesday. The excited group of students including Sgt. Rehorn's brother, Nicholas, met him in the schools drive with patriotic signs they made for him. As the young Sergeant got out of his vehicle the students stood at attention and saluted him. Sgt. Rehorn saluted in return and watched as the students filed in formation and marched with precision to their classroom.
The highlight of his visit for the students was the opportunity to survey his brand new uniform – the ACU (Army Combat Uniform). Sgt. Rehorn's was only a week old, while other troops have not received theirs as of yet. According to Sgt. Rehorn, the new ACU will be standard for all of the army troops by the year 2008.
The new uniform has a digital design resembling the typical camouflage that is supposedly more effective in blending in with all environments day or night.
Sgt. Rehorn placed his bulletproof vest on the students in an effort to give them a 'feel' for his uniform.
"My vest is bullet proof, and heavy, but I am used to that," Sgt. Rehorn said. "My helmet weighs about 6 pounds. I have what is called a 'camels back' in the back and I use this tube to suck water from it, so I don't have to stop to get water."
Sgt. Rehorn answered questions giving the fourth graders a glimpse into his life as a soldier.
"The Army is just like a job," Sgt. Rehorn said. "I go to work and come home. It is just a little different when I am overseas. It is hard sometimes, but not all of the time. It's actually fun sometimes. And I do get homesick. You feel it all the time. Anytime you are away from home you feel homesick. I don't get to see my parent's enough. I only see them once a year when I am overseas. Our food is not good at all. I get sick of the MRE's every time I eat one. And, yes, we play video games at night just like you."

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