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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Residents counting the days to Charlie Company's return

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Shawn Stevens, a member of the First Baptist Church, places "Welcome Home 1140th, Thank You" on the church sign.
SIKESTON - Returning guardsmen from Sikeston's Charlie Company 1140th Engineer Battalion and other area National Guard units can expect to hear not only "Welcome home" but also "Merry Christmas" and "Happy birthday."

"I'm ready - I've been ready for the last year," said Bobbie Freeman of Bertrand who is anxiously awaiting the return of her son, Spc. Joshua Freeman.

"I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off making sure that everybody knows when he's coming home - I want the streets lined," she said. "Of course I'll probably be at the armory because I want to be there when he gets off the bus."

Freeman said she has prepared a room at her place for her son to stay "maybe for a few days, but he has a fiancee and a child." She explained most of her efforts have been toward preparing a home for her son's new family.

While Freeman has known for some time that her son would be coming home the first week of March, for her the date has approached "very slowly - this week has probably been the worst one, knowing he's here (in the U.S.)," she said.

Bobbie Freeman of Bertrand looks through a scrapbook of pictures of her son, Spc. Joshua Freeman, in Iraq.
"I'm always emotional when it comes to him," Freeman said. "I'll probably be the one crying the hardest when they pull up. I think all mothers probably feel that way."

Beth Fowler of New Madrid, who is preparing for her son Kyle Taylor's homecoming, has been busy "trying to get him a room ready so he has a place to stay" and "buying more groceries. He'll be ready to eat."

Fowler said family and friends are planning get-togethers to make up for lost time.

"We'll have his Christmas for him and everything he missed while he was gone," she said. "He turned 21 over there. We're going to have the tree and the presents, the whole bit."

"It's been a bad year," Fowler added. She explained Taylor's father was in the hospital when Taylor was deployed and passed away soon after. "It's been tough, it really has."

Celebrations for the birthday and holidays Joshua Freeman missed are planned as well, Freeman said. "He turned 19 in Iraq March 4," Freeman said, "and three days after he comes home he will turn 20."

While family and friends here are overjoyed to have their loved ones back, Fowler said for Taylor coming home will be bittersweet. "He's happy to be coming home but at the same time sad," she said. "He's sad to be leaving his friends - that's his extended family over there."

Before leaving Iraq, Joshua Freeman was stationed at Convoy Support Center Scania located in Nippur, Iraq, on a main supply route just south of Baghdad.

CSC Scania is described by globalsecurity.com's Web site as having "all the ambiance of a landfill."

"It's a truck stop they turned into a little fort," Freeman said. "He said he got used to the mortar fire and the guns going off all the time."

Taylor was also at CSC Scania, having volunteered to go with Freeman. "They don't talk about it too much so we really don't know what's going on," Fowler said.

Fowler said she doesn't expect Taylor to be the exact same person he was when he left.

"He's grown up a lot, a whole lot," she said. "He's more responsible than when he was home - I hate the way he got the responsibility, but I think it will help him in life, I really do."

"I'm glad they are all safe and sound and home," said Freeman, adding that she is relieved that "no one was hurt in combat - they all came back in one piece. We're so glad they're home and so proud of them."