KRISTOFER THOMPSON IS BACK FROM IRAQ!
Dear Family and Friends,
I know I’m terribly late in providing the latest news on Kristofer, but since I’ve been back to school after spring break, I can’t seem to get back into the groove! This is, for now, the final chapter in the “saga” of Iraqi Freedom seen through Kristofer’s eyes! I had a friend not too long ago remark that she would miss reading the updates I sent out, but she would be happy when he was home, safe and sound. I will miss sending out updates. It had become almost second nature to me, sharing his experiences with my family and friends. He is now back, safe and sound, at Ft. Carson. Lew and I drove like crazy from Phoenix to Colorado Springs all night Wednesday to meet him and 245 other soldiers arriving from Iraq. The Welcome Home ceremony took place in an old gymnasium. On one wall hung a huge US flag that totally covered the wall. Young military wives walked in wearing short skirts and high heels, dressed to the nines for their men! There was a corner of the gym roped off, providing free day care for children. The atmosphere was almost carnival-like, with balloons, teddy bears, banners, flags waving, and welcome home signs everywhere. We visited with other military wives waiting to see their spouses. You would think we had known these families forever! The young woman, Sally, the wife of Kris’s captain, came over to meet us and gave me a big hug. She knew we had driven all night and was so thankful we made it in time! (We, too!!!) The ceremony was unbelievable. We waited for the signal indicating that the soldiers were ready to march through the doors. The gym was totally packed with high emotion. Toby Keith’s song, “I am a Soldier” played while we screamed, cheered, and cried. 245 soldiers marched in, wearing desert camouflage, helmets, and boots. The roar from the crowd was deafening! As the soldiers stood at attention, we sang the National Anthem, and a commanding officer talked about both the bravery and compassion of the fine young men and women standing before us. Even though these young men and women were standing at attention, you could see their eyes scanning the crowd for their loved ones. I looked and looked, hoping to catch a glimpse of Kris, but later we found out he stood in the back of the group. We then sang the army song, “When Those Caisons Come Rolling Along.” It was quite apparent the soldiers really didn’t know the lyrics that well! Finally, what seemed to be a lifetime, the commanding officer yelled, “Dismissed!” and pandemonium broke out. The crowd went wild once again, screaming, shouting, and crying. We poured from the bleachers to the gym floor searching for our soldiers. I couldn’t find Kris, so Brooke stood on the bleachers yelling his name. He appeared from nowhere, and she ran to him, throwing her arms around him. My turn was next. I couldn’t let him go, not even to let anyone else take their turn at hugging him! He looked so handsome in his desert camouflage, smiling and laughing. We all wore matching tee-shirts that said welcome home LT Kris. He got a big kick out of them. Our 5th graders had designed wonderful posters in Kris’s honor, and we had those proudly displayed. He loved them, too. I think he was amazed to see so many family members there greeting him. My mom and dad, Kris’s dad and stepmother, Brooke and Kevin, Lew and I were all there. Dad drove Kris around to the back of the gym to pick up his gear. We found a Denny’s for breakfast and spent time listening to Kris tell about all the many times he had to pack and unpack his duffle bags for customs officers and how McDonalds was there with Big Macs and Cokes to greet the guys the minute they disembarked from the plane. Of course, I told everyone I saw that “My son just got home from Iraq.” People were truly genuine in their thanks and handshakes. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of Kristofer. My son has experienced what most of us can only imagine. For exceptional meritorious achievement and dedication to mission accomplishment while participating in combat operations to liberate Iraq, my son was awarded the Bronze Star.
We must keep our soldiers in our prayers. Love, Cindy