Tyrone American Legion welcomes home area soldiers

Three of the five local soldiers returning after completing an 18-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom attended a “Welcome Home” gathering at the Howard-Gardner American Legion Post No. 281 in Tyrone Friday night.
The soldiers were deployed from Fort Lee in May of 2003, returning home a week ago.
Members of the 372 Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cumberland, MD, include Spc. Eric Detwiler, Spc. Travis Yarnell, Spc. Chad Westbrook and Spc. Rachel Bower. While Detwiler, Yarnell, Westbrook and Bower remain in the Reserve unit, Spc. Scott Sessamen recently received a medical discharge.
Welcoming remarks were by Legion Commander Frank Zanghi, area dignitaries and many friends. The soldiers were also presented with life-time American Legion memberships for their service in time of war.
Spc. Eric Detwiler is the son of Rita and Ray Detwiler. Spc. Travis Yarnell is the son of Barbara and Gary Yarnell. Spc. Chad Westbrook is the son of Vicky Westbrook. Spc. Rachel Bower is the daughter of Linda and Richard Bower. Spc. Scott Sessamen is the son of George and Peggy Sessamen. Sessamen is married to the former Teri White.
Spc. Bower observed both her 21st and 22nd birthdays overseas. Mrs. Bower said her daughter turned 21 while serving in Bosnia and was in Iraq for her 22nd birthday.
“She had hardly started college when her unit was first deployed to Bosnia where they served for seven months. Rachel was there when 9-11 happened to our country nearly two years ago, and she also had to miss her sister’s wedding,” Mrs. Bower said.
Along with being away for her 22nd birthday, Rachel also missed her grandfather’s funeral.
Recalling some events her daughter shared with the family, Mrs. Bower said her unit could have been shot numerous times in mortar attacks.
“We believe that it was the many, many prayers of people praying for their safety, the act of God and Angels that kept them safe.”
Rachel also spoke of the townspeople there, Mrs. Bower said, noting her daughter spoke of them as being very friendly and cooperative.
The soldiers all felt their experience in serving in Iraq had given them a renewed focus on a desire to help people. Also, that God had watched over their unit, as not a soldier was lost in combat while they served there.