My Hometown

My Hometown

Johnny Wilkins Comes Home

In the early 1990’s, the world was on edge as Operation Desert Storm raged on.

American flags flew proudly on the front porches in my hometown.

The well-manicured lawns were now stuck with several hand-held American flags.

But when 20-year-old Johnny Wilkins was deployed, the pride that my town swelled up with turned quiet; still proud, but filled with an underlying worry.

The American flags waved in the breeze and were only overshadowed by the yellow ribbons that were now wrapped around every tree.

Wilkins was a hometown boy who enlisted in the Army out of high school at the age of 18.

The churches prayer on Sunday morning, which always asked to take care of our troops, now hit a little closer to home as it specifically mentioned Wilkins by name.

His parents didn’t get to talk with him too frequently, but whenever they heard from him, they happily filled the town in with what they knew and how he was doing as you sensed a sigh of relief in their voices.

The underlying worry would continue for 6 months; would he make it home? Would we ever see him again?

Then the day finally came that we got the news that his troop was coming back to the states.

Mayor Joe Huddle called a town meeting to discuss the best way that we, as a community, could honor our hometown hero.

We discussed several different ideas including a parade and naming a street after him, but in the end, it was The Wilkins’ that came up with the suggestion that we all went with.

As Johnny Wilkins exited the plane the day that he came home, his parents immediately ran up to him and hugged him as he was met with a rousing ovation from our entire town who was there to welcome him home.

But the Wilkins family didn’t want us to stop there.

As each soldier exited the plane, our town met them with the same ovation.

Johnny Wilkins father said it best in that town meeting; “Johnny is from here and we are proud to call him our son, but every soldier that steps off of that plane is our hometown hero!”

 

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