OCTOBER 28, 2012 — This morning we received the best news any of us have had in a long time: the first group of Battle Company soldiers set foot on the paving of McChord’s airfield.
During the new few weeks the remainder of the soldiers still on the ground in Afghanistan will complete their final field missions and finish packing up their gear so they can begin the long trek back to the United States. Obviously for security purposes, their travel plans are not announced but this first group of returning soldiers is a sure sign that their deployment is ending.
After landing and turning in some gear, the soldiers were bused to a gymnasium where they formed up behind a curtain and stood at attention while first the only things folks could see was their boots,
Finally – the troops!
… then their Multicam uniforms
… and then their faces were facing family members for the first time in a year.
Finally – boots on the ground at home
After a few formalities, the troops were released to the shouts of joy from their families and friends.
Morgan Marklin Jr and Loni Walter (left couple) and Alexis and Chris McGinty (right couple) when they came home
Now the Flechsig family (Sgt. Adam, 6-month-old Jack, and Natalia) is whole. That’s what this day was all about.
No comment necessary other than a couple of ‘amens’
Not long after the arrival activities were over and he was settled, Spc.Justin Walker called to be sure he could come to the Montgomery house and reclaim his car (we’ve been taking care of it and a lot of other soldier stuff during the deployment). He brought along one of the unit’s medics, Pfc. Uriel Velazquez.
So we did what any proud parent/partner would do – we took them out to dinner at the nearby RAM for anything they wanted to eat and the infamous Mile High ice cream dessert. Best time of the years. As other soldiers connect with their local partners, they can expect more joy-filled dinners too.
Welcome home guys. Thanks for all the hugs.
(For those whose soldier wasn’t in this group, fear not for he will be here soon. As the rest of the troops, return, their arrival will be featured here as well so check back frequently.)
Frank LeMaire Sr. and Charlie in Minneapolis 10-20-12
Getting any puppy loved and hugged by an American soldier from the mountains of Afghanistan to the soldier’s home in the United States take a lot of work and cooperation, and some money. But dogs once cursed as strays in Afghanistan find themselves loved once they attach themselves to an American service member, including Battle Company troops. Some are lucky enough to get a new home and become an American dog.
This time the center of attention was a puppy, Charlie, whose soldier is Pfc. Steven LeMaire.
We don’t have the whole story of how Charlie entered this soldier’s life yet (hint) but with a full family of LeMaires helping, Charlie landed at Seattle, Friday, Oct. 19th, and then enjoyed the care, attention and hosting of Burien Veterinary Hospital and Dr Erin Witty, plus care from volunteers Carol A. Reddell, and Anne Howley. Then the next morning, Charlie boarded another plane to begin the final leg of his journey to a new home in Iowa.
“It was so much fun welcoming Thor, Alfalfa and wee Charlie to the USA today. Thank you to the military folks who fell in love with them and the families who are opening their heart and homes to these awesome pups! Paw Salute to all!” — Anne Hawley
This rescue effort for Charlie was under the auspices of the Puppy Rescue Mission, great folks in Celina, Texas. Please visit their website at Puppy Rescue Mission. With donations from many of us, our soldiers will have their four-legged partners to love again when they get home in a few short weeks.
Finally on Saturday, Oct. 20, 12012, Charlie arrived in Minneapolis and was picked up by the LeMaries and driven to his new home on an Iowa farm.
There is more, however, to Charlie’s arrival story.
Sometime ago when Frank mentioned that their farm was near Nashua, Iowa, wasn’t far from Minneapolis and that they might drive up to the Twin Cities some day this fall, I recommended he add some time to his travel plans to include lunch at a special place near my hometown (Howard Lake, Minnesota, only two miles from the farm where I was born). They made that trip Saturday, Oct. 20th, and before Charlie arrived they enjoyed lunch at this farm-based restaurant in the middle of a rural orchard (really!)
“So we went to Carlson’s Orchard, walked in the door and there was a sign ‘Frank Lemaire check in at front desk.’ What a surprise!”
“Dr. Jerry Montgomery had called ahead and got us one of their world famous pies. That place was amazing. Little Afghan Charlie is a dream 🙂 Thank you all for your generosity and kindness — at Carlson’s Orchard Bakery and Restaurant,” Frank said.
Mr.and Mrs. Joe Carlson, the orchard’s owners, presented Frank with one of their pies as a gift honoring Steven’s service in Afghanistan even though I had arranged to cover the cost with my credit card (they declined my offer). “Awesome; such wonderfully nice people there and the food was terrific,” Frank said.
Pfc. Steve Lemaire and Charlie in Afghanistan
Pfc. Steven LeMaire on duty in Afghanistan
Charlie and Dr. Erin Witty at Burien Veterinary Clinic south of Seattle – almost to Charlie’s new home in Iowa
NASHUA, Iowa – The saying goes “A dog is a man’s best friend,” and that couldn’t be any truer in this story.
Army Pfc. Steven Lemaire of Nashua is currently serving overseas in Afghanistan, and while there he met a four legged friend he decided he couldn’t live without.
“We were online and he said, ‘Oh look at this puppy,’ and he took some pictures and shared the pictures with us,” said Frank Lemaire, Steven’s father.
Steven told his dad about how he found the dog, Charlie, one day while out on patrol. Steven was originally going to just hand the dog off to the next unit but that didn’t happen.
“Earlier that month one of his buddies had been killed and he took it kind of hard,” Lemaire said. “He wasn’t happy you could just tell he wanted it to be over but when he got Charlie you could see he was chipper.”
Steven knew he had to get Charlie back home to Iowa and he found an organization willing to help. The family welcomed Charlie home this past weekend.
“The first day, I don’t think he’d ever seen a cat and grass, he had never seen grass until he got to Minnesota,” Lemaire said.
Now that Charlie is in the United States he’s giving that same kind of support he gave to Steven to his family right here in Iowa.
“They brought in the kennel at the cargo part where we picked him up and I instantly started crying because it’s like I got a piece of my brother home,” said Gabrielle Lemaire, Steven’s sister.
Gabrielle isn’t surprised her brother connected so well with Charlie, even while in harm’s way.
“It’s typical Steven because he’s warm-hearted, if he finds something he loves he’s going to work to get it,” Gabrielle said.
And as this family gets used to having their newest member by their side, they know this dog will always be more than just a pet.
“That is a care package they provided for my son that he will have for a lifetime; Charlie may not live past 15 years but the memories are there forever,” Lemaire said.
Steven is due to come home in a couple months, just in time for Christmas. The organization that got Charlie back to the U.S. is called the Puppy Rescue Mission. They, along with donors across the country, help bring back numerous dogs that soldiers rescue overseas.
“Many a men and women have fought and died to give me the right to express my gratitude in the way of these videos. These men here are the future of our once proud warrior nation. This song is what our nations core and values once used to be. Where is that now?
Battle Boys please help bring it back. God bless you and America.”
— Frank Lemaire, father of Pfc. Steven Lemaire of the Battle Company
After watching the video, the mother of another Battle Company soldier (Pfc. Justin Pilla) posted this comment:
“Hope everyone watches this video; the last two boys holding their babies can no longer hold them because they paid the ultimate price for us!”
—Ivy Walsh Ladyko
Frank Lemaire credits Mrs. Ladyko for being his inspiration for several of the videos he has posted. What a great duo!
Sometimes the good guys just need some candy, not bullets. Take a look at this photo of a Battle Company soldier doing some effective community relations in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Antonio Barajas, Battle Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1st Squadron 14th Cavalry Regiment, hands out candy to children from Janan Keley, Afghanistan, Sept. 5, 2012.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chris McCullough, Combined Task Force Arrowhead Public Affairs)