A Hero’s Welcome Columbiana mayor returns from six months overseas

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2003

When three buses pulled into the parking lot of the National Guard Armory in Homewood last Saturday, returning Allan Lowe home from service in Operation Enduring Freedom in Germany and Turkey, it marked the end of a seven-month odyssey for the town of Columbiana and the long-awaited return of a son, husband and father to two little ones.

Lowe’s absence for military duty placed the city of Columbiana on the map for removing a town’s current elected mayor from active civic service to his city for active military service to his country.

It was a civics lesson in the real world.

Lowe is expected to resume his duties as mayor the first week of August. Councilmember Tom Seale, who served as mayor during Lowe’s absence, is expected to regain his council seat.

&uot;I’ve enjoyed my seven months as mayor,&uot; Seale said. &uot;We all (the council) worked really well together. I take joy from the projects we started. We don’t do it for the money.&uot;

Lowe’s wife, Scarlott, who served in Seale’s place on the council, said of her time in office: &uot;I’ve enjoyed it. But I think Allan is much better at politics than I am.&uot;

She said of her council post, &uot;I’m giving it back.&uot;

The politics, however, was hardly a thought on the minds of family and friends of Lowe, including Seale and his two sons, Jared and Jonathan, who came to Homewood last weekend to welcome him home.

&uot;It’s been tough&uot; for the children, said Scarlott of her husband’s absence. &uot;He’s a very involved father.&uot;

Scarlott and Allan have two children, Caleb, age 8, and Caroline, age 5.

His sister, Tracy Lowe, agreed that it had been a difficult time for the Lowe family.

&uot;I’m just glad he’s home. I don’t want to ever do this again,&uot; she said.

She said her brother was away for nine months during the Gulf War in 1991.

Her own son, Ryan Allan Williams, was only 3-months-old at the time.

Tracy made the trip to Homewood to welcome Lowe back with son, Ryan and daughter, Karlie Williams.

&uot;I’m just delighted &045; very elated and excited to have him home. This is an answer to many prayers,&uot; said Lowe’s mother, Jean.

As for the immediate future, Scarlott said, &uot;We are going to just hang around (Columbiana) for a while, then go somewhere.&uot;

But she said with a smile, &uot;I’m not telling where.&uot;

While Lowe was away, his family had access to him about every three days by email or telephone, Scarlott said.

She said she shared special or unique communications with her husband, and he sent candy and shoes home from Germany.

She also said Caleb’s class at Elvin Hill sent Allan letters, and students from Columbiana Middle School sent him a scrapbook.

Although those gestures helped, they did not mean military service was a cakewalk for Lowe.

Except for about two months, he said, he spent his time in Germany. But those two months included time in &uot;countries outside Germany,&uot; predominately Turkey.

While Lowe could not go into detail, he said a four-man cell of his group made the trip into Iraq to assist in the logistical support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade which landed in Bashur, Iraq.

Lowe’s unit was part of an active army unit with the primary responsibility to supply &uot;everything the army uses except medical supplies, such as food, water, fuel, ammunition, weapon systems, uniforms, repair parts, construction materials, anything in and outside the army’s inventory that is needed by troops to accomplish their mission.&uot;

Lowe said when his unit went to Turkey, &uot;We had to deploy with body armor, gas masks, weapons and ammunition because of the high terrorist threat.&uot;

He said at all times in Turkey, he and his men were in full &uot;battle rattle.&uot;

Lowe said the men could not travel in groups of fewer than four in two vehicles.

He said the night his unit returned form Mardin, Turkey, about a 10-hour drive to Incerlik Air Force Base, his headquarters received intelligence that the convoy in which Lowe was riding was being targeted for rocket attack.

However, Lowe said, the men had only cellular phones for communications available and there was no signal.

&uot;We were blissfully ignorant the whole way,&uot; he said.

&uot;Just the prayers from back home kept it from happening.&uot;

He said of being home, &uot;It feels wonderful. I am sure happy to be back where I belong. I will take a couple of weeks to spend with my family. The city is in excellent hands.&uot;

Also on hand to greet Lowe were Marilyn and Buck Kendrick.

&uot;I’m very thankful for all the friends and families here for the returning troops and myself and hope everyone realizes we are a small part of that unit (Detachment 1 of the 200th Materiel Management Center) and a smaller part of troops still deployed in harm’s way,&uot; said Lowe.

&uot;No one should think this conflict is over or close to being over.&uot;

Also serving with Lowe’s unit and returning home with him were county residents Jeff Hornsby of Chelsea and George Hulsey of Shelby