Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Minus 49 Days - There's No Place Like Home

Imagine my delight when other journalists covering Albuquerque's Tricentennial Celebration told me this weekend's edition of USA TODAY recommends our hometown of Hot Springs, Ark., as a great place to houseboat.

In family news, Wayne's aunt Teresa (my sister) called yesterday with another great story about her 7-year-old daughter, Sarah Grace. Asked by her teacher to write something about 'patience,' Sarah penned, "Patience is when your cousin is in Iraq and you are waiting for him to come home safely."

Now, just how precious is that kind of faith?

Wayne has been back in the States for 122 days now. Every one of those days is precious, too.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Minus 52 Days - Generating Traffic after Easter

Most of you have met our entire family, but for those who may have forgotten, let me reintroduce Wayne's Aunt Teresa, and her quite bright 7-year-old daughter, Sarah Grace, both residents of metro Atlanta.

On the way home from Easter service at church Sunday, Teresa prompted Sarah's thinking about Jesus' mother by saying,"If you could ask Mary one question, what would it be?"

In a split second, Sarah answered: "Did you nearly pee in your pants when you saw that stone had been moved??"

I decided today the entire driving population of India must think with the same lightening speed as Sarah. Have you ever seen how those people drive? Watch this!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Minus 55 Days - Married and Preparing for Marriage

Thanks to everybody who has emailed asking if everything's OK in Wayne's World. Yes, we're fine, and especially grateful that Wayne has made such a smooth transition back to civilian life. He reports for Alpha Company's first drill since their return from Iraq the first weekend of May.

Since we last posted, kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll was released by her captors. Our readers joined thousands of others praying for her release. In fact, one of our brief emails to her was published in the CS Monitor and broadcast on CNN. We join her parents in thanking everyone who supported their successful efforts to see their daughter returned safely.

In our own family, things have stayed busy. Since our last post, Wayne grandmother, GG, married Wilford Pickett. Shortly afterward, they moved to their new home in Hot Springs Village, America's largest gated community.

The Picketts' new home overlooks the Ouachita Mountains, a special delight for GG, who has longed to live near mountains ever since she left her childhood home in north Georgia.

About the same time, our friends and mentors, Dr. and Mrs. George Monta, came to Hot Springs to perform my official ordination to Christian Ministry. Other friends and family joined us from Louisiana for the ceremony held at Lookout Point Lakeside Inn.

Shortly after that, our good friends and former Soldiers Angels, Bill and Ellen Walker, along with Von and Beaure Talbot, hosted a lovely cocktail buffet shower for Wayne and Lauren.

The night of the shower, our Hot Springs friends braved a torrential rainstorm to enjoy Ellen and Von's gracious hospitality and good food, as well as to honor Wayne and Lauren.

Other than that, we've made a couple of trips to the coast - one to Florida, another to Califonia.

Next week, we're headed to Albuquerque.

Happy Easter, everyone!