Daddy returns home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2003

An Alabaster man who fulfilled his duty to his country even though it meant missing the birth of his son, is now home &045; on diaper duty.

Tech. Sgt. Todd Ledbetter of the Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing out of Montgomery was recently brought home from an undisclosed location in the Middle East just weeks after coalition forces took control of Baghdad.

Ledbetter’s first child, Josh, was born at Shelby Baptist Medical Center March 18, while he was serving overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Todd’s wife, Lisa, wasn’t able to talk to her husband on the phone until the day after their son was born.

&uot;I was scared Joshua was going to be close to a year old when Todd got home,&uot; she said. &uot;It was almost like a release when they finally got together.&uot;

A falling statue of Saddam Hussein in the streets of Baghdad symbolized the end of major combat in a war that kept Todd half a world away from his wife and the son he had yet to meet.

&uot;It happened a little bit faster than I expected,&uot; said Todd, who watched the statue fall on CNN with other cheering American soldiers.

With much of the major combat over, Todd, who was responsible for servicing the weaponry on F16 fighter jets for air strikes on enemy targets, was soon coming home.

&uot;My boss came and asked me if I wanted to leave and I said, ‘Sure, if you can spare me.’

&uot;After I ate midnight chow, I had a phone call from the orderly room so I knew I was either going to get my rear end chewed out for something or I was going home.&uot;

Several days later, Todd took a deep breath of thick Alabama air and held his son for the first time.

&uot;I saw his cute little nose and I guess it dawned on me that I was a father now,&uot; Todd said. &uot;I was excited. I had all these emotions.&uot;

Lisa, who remained strong through her faith and the support of family and friends, said she was happy to see her family complete.

&uot;I was more focused on Todd getting to see Josh than me getting to see Todd,&uot; Lisa said.

&uot;Joshua knew Todd was his dad,&uot; she said. &uot;I could tell something different was going on and that he could tell that was his dad.&uot;

Todd, who also fought in the first Gulf War, must report to Montgomery until he is taken off active duty.

He said he will be home on the weekends for possibly a month, until the paperwork is complete.

During times of peace, Todd works for BellSouth in Hoover. Lisa is a teacher at Kingwood Christian School.

&uot;I am going to help make the world a better place for my son,&uot; Todd told his wife shortly before he was deployed.

Certainly his world is now a better place with his son in his arms