Thursday, July 3, 2008

"That’s right — six exclamation points"

While on vacation, we are keeping one eye on the news back home.

So, what could be more exciting than news from the local airport? Nothing, actually.

Credit: Joseph Rodriguez / News & Record

Army Spc. Lee Howerton faced a difficult choice as he strode up the airport hallway, suitcase in one hand and a black beret clutched tightly in the other.

Up ahead, the surprise welcoming committee of 31 people included his fiancee, mother, brother, even his fourth-grade teacher.

So after a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq, who gets the first hug?

Howerton’s family made the decision for him. A white-haired man seated in a combination wheelchair/walker held a homemade sign in his trembling hands: “Pop gets the first hug!!!!!!”

That’s right — six exclamation points.

Robert “Pop” Mitchell , an 81-year-old former Navy man, cried just a little as he embraced his 21-year-old grandson.

Lanette Ezell speeaks for us:

The family and friends gathered at Piedmont Triad International Airport were obviously proud of Howerton.

They were not alone.

Lanette Ezell and Joel Roach stood a short distance away. They were fellow passengers on the flight from Memphis to Greensboro, the last leg of the soldier’s cross-country journey from Fort Lewis.

“I don’t even know him,” Ezell said. “I just walked by and saw all the people here, and I got all choked up.”

Ezell dabbed at the tears in her eyes as she watched loved ones greet the tall, broad-shouldered stranger in the smart dress uniform.

“They should all get this kind of welcome home!!!!!!”

We admit having taken some editorial liberties with that last sentence, giving it the "Pop" Mitchell treatment.

That’s right — six exclamation points.

MORE: Thanks to Blog-ah for the link. Blog-ah focuses on Fort Lewis -- and should be read...repeatedly...

AND MORE, MORE: Thanks, too, to Mudville Gazette for the link in their Dawn Patrol section. The Dawn Patrol is a "daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics" at Mudville Gazette -- and is a daily must read.


  1. You are the best, Hit!!!!!! (yes 6)

  2. Not better than you...never ever, in my wildest dreams, better than you!!!!!!!

    That's seven.