Cairo soldier returns home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cairo soldier returns home

April 22, 2004

Ft. Benning - A soldier from Cairo is back with his family. On Wednesday, he took an important plane ride into Ft. Benning. Along with him, more than one hundred soldiers.

A mother. Ophie Johnson says, "It seems like this day would never come, so it's here."

A son. Nine-year-old Justin Johnson, "Kind of sad. I'm used to him being there, yeah. I don't have noone to play with when I go outside and stuff."

A soldier. His name is Sgt. First Class Willard Johnson from Cairo. His mother, Ophie, smiles, "He's the fourth, I think, wait, sixth child. I can't keep up, I'm sorry."

One of ten siblings. Ophie laughs, "It's his birthday, he's 39 today." A birthday party this isn't, Johnson has a homecoming celebration to attend. 

Ft. Benning's 608th Ordinance Company has been away from home for a year.  When asked how much Justin has grown, he says, "A lot, I'm almost as tall as my mom now."

Nearly 120 soldiers march in, in single file. A magical moment, his mother finally finds her sixth child, but last in line.  Ophie smiles, "As long as he's in one piece, I'll take him any way he comes."

The reunion is priceless with parents, siblings, a wife and kids all wanting a hug. Johnson pulls a toy out of his pocket, "My little girl [Kayla] sent me an air plane over the holidays and she said 'daddy fly home', so I brought the same plane back and told her I made it home and brought the plane back to her."

Kayla got her toy plane back, as for her brother, he says, "I was happy." Their dad plans to retire from the military soon. Johnson adds, "I got all my 23 soldiers back safe and sound."

Back from Iraq, a mission complete and now a family complete.

An Albany and a Moultrie soldier also returned with the 608th Ordinance Company.

posted at 5:00PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com

 

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