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.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SSGT West Completes Term of Military Service

When I answered the phone at 7:30 this morning, a quiet voice on the other end asked, "Hey, Mom. Do you know what today is?" A little baffled, I encouraged Wayne to continue. "It's my last day in the Guard," he replied. "Eight years. Over. Done."

For the next several seconds, we each held our phones in silence. Traffic whizzed past Wayne's car. My own pulse pounded in my ear.

Our eight-year journey started in 2001 as a simple discussion how to help finance Wayne's education at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.
Who knew the day he enlisted in the Army National Guard would become known as 9-11?

Four years later, our nation still grasping for answers, Wayne boarded a planed headed to Iraq - the most difficult day I've expererienced as his mother. And thankful as we are for his safe return, we still mourn with those families whose soldiers returned in coffins.

Tonight, there are no marching bands. No waving flags. No cheering onlookers. But we who are safely settled with the ones we love are grateful for valiant soldiers like Staff Sgt. Wayne West - who now joins a host of honorable veterans who have truly helped to make America a home for the free and the brave.

Thank you, Wayne. Well done, Son. Well done.