Sunday, November 12, 2006

A "Welcome Home!" to a Veteran, and Thank You!!

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, and appropriately, two separate companies of veterans arrived back "home", to Joplin, MO just in time for Veteran's Day. In fact, the story in the local newspaper, written by Mike Dwyer, was sub-titled (at least in the print edition) "Just in time for Veteran's Day." I was interested in the story, because one of the veterans to return home was a friend of mine, Sgt. Robert Tomko. I first met Rob in August of 2004 on my class roster in Old Testament History class. In January, he was joined in the class by his girlfriend from back home in Illinois/Wisconsin, Melissa. I still have Melissa's cell phone number in my cell phone, listed as Melissa K. I just put the first initial of her last name there, because her last name was far too long, and had a disproportionate ratio of consonants to vowels. When I was a kid, I was taught that every syllable needs to have at least one vowel, but that rule was broken by Melissa K's last name.

Actually, in August of 2005, she exchanged her last name that started with a for one that is much easier to spell, Tomko. For some strange reason, Rob and Melissa aske
d me to perform their wedding ceremony. The dates for the wedding changed several times, I think from January of 2006, to November 2005 (wedding dates frequently get moved up), and finally to August 2005. Why? Because Rob was in the Reserves, and he would be deployed to Iraq. So, I made my way to Rockford, IL and performed a wedding ceremony. Just a few days later, Rob left for Iraq.

Mike Dwyer interviewed Melissa for the story, and she made it into the story:
At the armory, Melissa Tomko, who married Sgt Robert Tomko three days before he deployed 15 months ago, waited.
She calculated that she had only seen her husband for three weeks as long as they had been married.
"I'm excited to just have him home," she said. "It makes me really proud to be an American and a soldier's wife."

The print edition even had a photo, which evidently didn't make the cut for the online e
dition. I took the newspaper, and scanned the photo, which I will include here. I talked to Rob and Melissa this morning at church, and gave him a big hug. Rob plans (at least last time I talked to him) to be back in school at OCC in January. Thank you Lord, for keeping him safe in Iraq, and for bringing him back safely! And thanks for his service, to keep freedom fires burning here and around the world!

I was in Illinois last Sunday, and knew that he was about ready to return. Actually, a friend of Rob's, Caleb Phillips, who is in my first year Greek class has kept me informed about his imminent return from Iraq. I knew that he would need to spend several days at Ft. Leonard Wood, in central Missouri, before returning back to Joplin. Since I was driving right past Ft. Leonard Wood last Sunday evening, I thought about Rob as I passed through there. I grabbed my phone, looked for the number of Melissa K. and dialed it. It must have been about 7:00 PM. When she answered, I asked her where she was, and if she was with Rob. She answered that she was at Ft. Leonard Wood, and that she thought she would get to see him within about a half hour. Caleb informed me in Greek class on Friday (at 8:00 AM) that his group was to arrive at the Armory on 32nd street about 10:45 AM. I probably would have gone, had I not been in class. That day, I had agreed to speak to Jeff Robertson's Christ and the Bible class.

Thanks, Rob! Thanks, Melissa! I pray God's richest blessings on both of you!


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