Allan Lowe headed home July 7

Dear Editor,

The time to come home is here!

There are no words I can use to tell you the sheer joy I now have, knowing that very soon I will be holding my family in my arms again.

Unless some crisis occurs which will require us to remain on active duty, over one hundred of us are scheduled to fly from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany to Fort Benning, Ga., on July 7.

Most of our unit’s several missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom have successfully ended, and the soldiers who saw those missions accomplished will now be released from active duty with the pride of knowing that we made a difference.

After turning in all my field equipment and making sure my paperwork for redeployment was in order, I’ve begun to pack my duffle bags for the trip.

Among my possessions that I will bring home are treasures that were given to me by family and friends to remind me of how fortunate I am to live in a city, county and state that has always supported our country, our armed forces and our Blessings of Liberty and Freedom.

Beside my bed (in Germany) and my cot (in Turkey) were always photographs of my wife and children.

These three people are the most precious souls in my life and are the reasons why I feel that our rights are far too valuable to sit back and let other people defend my freedoms.

The picture of my parents, sister, niece and nephew remind me of my family and dear friends who have prayed for my troops and me from the first day we left.

Another keepsake is a binder filled with essays written by brilliant young men and women of Columbiana Middle School.

I’ve read each essay at least twice, and am always touched by the level of understanding and patriotism these students and future leaders have.

My son attends Elvin Hill Elementary School, and his classmates and teacher, Mrs. Etress, sent letters of encouragement and love months ago.

Each letter is like gold to me, and I will always treat them as such.

Stacks of letters, cards and printed emails to me will also be carefully stored in my duffle bags.

Each piece is filled with wishes for a safe return and many contain assurances that daily prayers go up to God that He will watch over us all while we serve our country.

He did, and it was because of those prayers.

I even got emails from someone the Shelby County Reporter termed as having an &uot;iron hand and big heart,&uot; Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes.

Bobby, you’re as true of a friend as you are a leader.

Earlier this week, I got a wonderful opportunity to greet several friends and Shelby County elected officials and welcome them to Germany.

State Auditor Beth Chapman, Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry, State Senator &uot;Hank&uot; Erwin and others made a stop in Germany on their way to Romania to establish various contacts and relationships with their counterparts in that country.

Beth gave me the best hug I’ve gotten in a long time.

Sheriff Curry even delivered to me an envelope filled with letters from family and friends, complete with drawings from my son, Caleb, and my daughter, Caroline.

Thank you again, Beth and Chris.

To Tom Seale and the Columbiana City Council, I want to tell you how genuinely proud I am to be associated with people of your caliber.

You may not know it, but several of our constituents have kept in contact with me during my tour of duty and often included comments about how hard and how well you all worked together in making sure the city never suffered a bit at having a mayor called away from the city for so long.

I wish there were medals or commendations I could give each of you, because your efforts have truly been &uot;above and beyond the call of duty.&uot;

You serve our city well.

I look forward to being an active member among you again.

If everything goes according to plan (and most things don’t), I should be back in Columbiana on or about my sister’s birthday, July 12th.

I look forward to seeing all my friends and catching up on events in their lives.

However, all that will have to wait several days.

I’ve got a family that has been incredibly strong and supportive while I’ve had to be away from them, and now it’s time to thank them as best I can by making them the center of attention for a while, and the center of my life forever more.

As my last thought in my last article from here, I would like to say simply this:

Join me in thanking God for the many blessings He has shown us all during this time.

He is in charge, He always has been, and He will never let us down.

Thank you, Lord.

J. Allan Lowe

Major, U.S. Arm