“Mama I’m Coming Home.” The Ozzie Osborne classic was blaring the airwaves Sunday as mothers, daughters, wives and sweethearts waited in the heat, impatiently patient, excited, knowing the time was almost here. Their sons and daughters were coming home from the war in Iraq. 

The word was, they were already on the ground, loaded on buses, waiting for the appointed time. Cell phones were seen in use everywhere, keeping the crowd updated.

The DJ kept the music pumping, getting more upbeat as the time grew closer.

The bleachers at Fort Hood, near Killeen, were filling fast with anticipating family armed with flags, balloons and homemade signs, eager to greet their soldiers.

It was Mother’s Day and this was one of the greatest gifts they could receive, their soldiers home, safely.

Returning troop ceremonies are held frequently at the country’s largest military base, home of the 1st Cavalry Division and 4th Infantry Division.

Sherry Walles and Helen Clark of Orangefield, were eager to greet Sgt. Michael Walles from the 4-1 Cav Longknife. It had been 11 long months, shorter than his previous tour in Iraq, but long enough to be greatly missed.

It was an ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ kind of moment. Six buses pulled up across the street. Hidden from view, the soldiers piled out and got in formation. Everyone was tempted to holler, “Bus driver, move that bus!” 

As each bus left the scene you would get a glimpse of the soldiers as the spaces between the busses passed. The crowd was ecstatic as their sons and daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers drew closer as they marched across the field. 

Many were carrying one or two stems of flowers, or were clutching cards.

Once they reached the stands, commanding officers didn’t keep them from their families long. A prayer was said and two orders given. “Number one, call your mother, number two, be safe.”

Arms were thrown around loved ones, hugging, kissing and crying.
Clark shed tears of joy at the sight of her grandson. Walles offered the tail of his jacket to wipe them away.

One soldier promptly proposed to his girlfriend over the loud speaker. He got the answer he was looking for.

“It was planned ahead of time,” said Walles about his buddy. “Everybody knew about it but her.”

Balloons were freed in celebration.

The crowd thinned out as they gathered their loved ones and gear, making their way home to more private celebrations.

“What do you want to do first?” Asked Walles’ mother, Sherry.

“Find a steak and a beer,” he said. “And a shower.”

All requests were granted, but not in that particular order.

Welcome home.

Happy Mother’s Day.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.