A sol­dier’s home­com­ing

White­way na­tive on leave from Afghanistan given spir­ited wel­come.

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS

White­way, Trin­ity Bay - Alex Ge­orge’s young eyes nearly bulged out of his head last week when he glimpsed his fa­ther for the first time in three months.

The seven-year-old let out a joy­ous yell as he leapt into his fa­ther’s arms and tight­ened his grow­ing arms around his neck.

It was the be­gin­ning of a long-awaited and emo­tional re­union for M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge, Alex’s dad, and his fam­ily and friends.

“It’s the great­est feel­ing in the world. I missed him so much when I was over there,” Ed­die said later.

“It’s the long­est pe­riod of time I’ve ever spent away from him.”

Ed­die is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ists with the Cana­dian Forces and has been liv­ing and work­ing on a re­mote base in a moun­tain­ous area of Afghanistan. He re­ceived a hero’s wel­come when he re­turned to his home­town on July 13 to be­gin a three-week mid-de­ploy­ment vacation.

A mo­tor­cade of sev­eral dozen ve­hi­cles pa­raded from Ed­die’s fam­ily home to the White­way Me­mo­rial Cen­tre, where more than 100 cit­i­zens turned out to shake hands with Ed­die and hon­our his pres­ence.

There was soup and sand­wiches and plenty of smiles to go around, but few were hap­pier than Ed­die’s wife, Juanita (Reid), who is from Dildo South. It was the cou­ple’s eightyear an­niver­sary, and she was vis­i­bly moved by the ar­rival of her favourite sol­dier.

Their first hug in many weeks lasted for nearly a minute, and the tears were stream­ing down their cheeks. Ed­die’s mother, Mary, also fought back tears as she squeezed her old­est son. Ed­die’s brother, Wayne, is work­ing in Al­berta and couldn’t make it home for the re­union.

Ed­die was hum­bled by the out­pour­ing of sup­port, but wasn’t sur­prised.

“I would ex­pect it from this com­mu­nity. It’s al­ways been a place where ev­ery­body was friends. I guess with me be­ing over there, peo­ple are think­ing about me and it makes you feel pretty good about your­self when you come and see this kind of thing.”

Wayne Ge­orge, Ed­die’s fa­ther, picked him up at St. John’s Air­port late in the af­ter­noon.

They spoke about Ed­die’s ser­vice in the war-torn coun­try dur­ing the hour-long drive to White­way.

“He’s very proud of what he’s do­ing,” said Wayne.

But the mis­sion is sen­si­tive and Ed­die is re­luc­tant to go into de­tail. He said the coun­try is “ very hot,” and that he’s sta­tioned in a “rel­a­tively safe” part of Afghanistan. He said the com­rade­ship among his fel­low sol­diers is very high, and sup­plies and food are read­ily avail­able.

His job is to en­sure that com­mu­ni­ca­tions among sol­diers in the field and those at the bases are in top work­ing or­der. He said the job can be chal­leng­ing, but added, “I fill a re­ally im­por­tant role and I feel like I’m mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

He would not of­fer any com­ments about his thoughts on the mis­sion, but stressed that pack­ages from home are a “ big morale boost” to the sol­diers.

Ed­die said he hoped for a sim­ple and re­lax­ing vacation, and looked for­ward to trout­ing with his fa­ther and per­haps catch­ing a few cod­fish when the recre­ational food fish­ery opens.

Ed­die is sta­tioned and lives in Pete­wawa, Ont., but there was no ques­tion about where he wanted to spend his leave.

“ This is home. Pete­wawa is just where I’m liv­ing right now. I’ve got a house there, but I call this home,” he said.

Seven-year-old Alex Ge­orge holds a “ Wel­come Home” poster at the road­side in White­way last week. He was await­ing the ar­rival of his dad, M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge, who spent the last three months in Afghanistan. Cran­ing her neck in the back­ground is Alex’s mom, Juanita (right). Also in the back­ground are, from left, brother-in-law Mark Reid, Aunt Linda Soper, Mary Ge­orge (Ed­die’s mother) and Un­cle Steven Van Ev­ery.

Dozens of ve­hi­cles took part in a mo­tor­cade to help wel­come M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge home to White­way last week.

M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge hugs his seven-year-old son Alex af­ter be­ing re­united in White­way last week. Ge­orge is serv­ing in Afghanistan with the Cana­dian Forces.

The Ge­orge fam­ily, re­united af­ter three months, re­flect dur­ing a prayer at the com­mu­nity cen­tre in White­way last week. M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge has been serv­ing in Afghanistan for the past three months and is home on a mid-de­ploy­ment leave. He is shown with his son Alex and his wife Juanita.

For­mer sol­dier Todd Jack­son (right) chats with M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge and his wife, Juanita. Jack­son served three tours in Afghanistan be­fore leav­ing the forces.

Rel­a­tive and neigh­bour Vi­vian Ge­orge (right) pre­pares to hug M/Cpl. Ed­die Ge­orge dur­ing a re­cep­tion in White­way last week. In the fore­ground is Ed­die’s seven-year-old son Alex.

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