PARKERSBURG - Staff Sgt. Dorothy Workman's welcoming party Thursday at the Pfc. Roy M. Reynolds United States Armed Forces Reserve Center included three family members she was meeting for the first time.
Among those on hand to greet Workman and her fellow members of the U.S. Army Reserve 779th Engineer Company as they returned to Parkersburg following an 11-month deployment to Afghanistan were a young great-niece, Workman's 3-month-old granddaughter Charlotte and 6-day-old grandson Nash Raines.
Workman laughed that she didn't have "enough arms anymore" as she held Nash and reached out to embrace other family members Thursday afternoon.
Evan Bevins Special to the Times
U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Dorothy Workman of Pullman, W.Va., meets her 6-day-old grandson, Nash Raines, for the first time Thursday afternoon after she and other members of the Army Reserve 779th Engineer Company returned to the Pfc. Roy M. Reynolds United States Armed Forces Reserve Center in Parkersburg.
LEFT: U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Mike Kaylor, left, of Nashport, Ohio, holds his 20-month-old daughter, Kelsey, Thursday after he returned with fellow members of the Army Reserve 779th Engineer Company.
Approximately 160 soldiers in the company were deployed Sept. 21 for training in Mississippi before arriving in Afghanistan in November. While there, they concentrated on deconstruction of U.S. installations, said Sgt. 1st Class Dexter Akers of Parkersburg.
"It feels great to be home," he said.
Akers and two other members of the company were released a week before the others because they are full-time employees at the Reserve Center. Most traveled to Parkersburg from Fort Dix, N.J., by charter bus Thursday, with State Police, Parkersburg Police and the Patriot Guard providing an escort.
Davisville resident Dawn Maston said it felt more like Dec. 25 than Aug. 21 as she waited for her husband, Staff Sgt. Doug Maston, to arrive.
"I did not get any sleep last night," she said.
Dawn Maston's vehicle was decked out with a banner, made by A to Z Lettering, welcoming her husband back. It didn't cost her a dime.
"I went to pay for that, and the lady gave it to me," Maston said, adding that the woman asked her to thank her husband for his service.
Maston said the time her husband was away has been "the hardest time of my life.
"I was single for 12 years, and it's nothing compared to this," she said.
Vienna resident Reva Fielder said her husband, Sgt. Joseph Fielder, arrived earlier than his fellow soldiers.
"It was amazing. We surprised our boys. They were shocked," she said.
It was Sgt. Fielder's third deployment.
"You know more what to expect, but it doesn't make it any easier," she said.
Staff Sgt. Mike Kaylor of Nashport, Ohio, was holding his 20-month-old daughter Kelsey tightly after getting off the bus. His wife, Angela, said the girl, who was less than a year old when her father was deployed, was a little nervous about going to him, but that seemed to be fading quickly.
"It's been rough," Angela Kaylor said, adding she was "relieved" to have her husband home again.
For Staff Sgt. Kaylor, the plans for the next few days are simple: "Spend time with my family."