We just returned home from a weekend in Chicago for a happy family event. Descending on the escalator from the airport arrival level to the baggage pickup area that is the closest the public can come to greet passengers, we found the families of several Army servicemen returning home from Baghdad for their two-week furlough. They all held welcome signs decorated with flags and expressions of pride or love.
We spoke and waited with the family of 19-year-old Private First Class Randy Iverson, serving in Baghdad with the 204th Battalion Military Police Company. One of the lady relatives asked if we were waiting for someone as well, and I said that we just wanted to stay and thank Private Iverson for his service. Tears immediately welled up and started pouring down; she said Private Iverson had nearly been killed last week when his vehicle was hit by by a rocket-propelled grenade.
She pointed out Private Iverson’s father, with his face pressed up against the glass looking out to the escalator carrying incoming passengers. In front of us, Private Iverson’s uncle proclaimed his relationship to him as well. All around, the family’s pride in Private Iverson was evident, in addition to the toll taken by their concerns for his safety.
His relative explained to us that his duty involves the detention of the “deck” of political and military leaders rounded up by coalition forces. Then one of the kids shouted “there he is,” as a small, boyish, handsome young man approached smiling in Army fatigues. We left while the family members took their turns hugging him tightly and long. It’s a sight we’ll have in mind for a long time to come.
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