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Families excitedly wait for soldiers
Expect cannon fire and lots of tears at welcome at Memorial Coliseum.
By Cindy Larson

On Monday, friends and relatives of the Army Reserve’s 221st Ordnance Company were busy preparing for their loved ones’ return. Here’s how a few people spent their day:

Welcome with a bang

Jack Gaby of rural Kendallville perhaps will be making the most noise at today’s reunion at Memorial Coliseum. On Monday he was planning to take his two reproduction Civil War cannons to the coliseum to welcome home his son, Chief Warrant Officer Tim Gaby.

Jack Gaby said the 221st Family Readiness Group already had gotten him clearance to bring the cannons, and besides, he’ll only be using gunpowder, not cannonballs, just as he does at Civil War re-enactments.

Jack said he’ll be ready to fire “as soon as the buses pull in.”

“I’m thrilled he’s coming home,” said Jack and that Tim was looking forward to coming home and planting corn.

 
Reconnecting, at last

Glenna Doak was standing in a Walgreen’s on Monday buying poster board when her cell phone rang – a reporter on the other end wanted to ask questions.

She got so distracted she left Walgreen’s without the American flag she’d bought, and the clerk had to come running after her.

“I’m just so nervous. I’m a worrywart, anyway,” Glenna said.

Today, that poster board will be filled with messages welcoming the 221st home, including her husband of 18 years, Sgt. Peter Doak. Glenna and her 14-year-old daughter, Hollie, were to be at the coliseum today to celebrate Peter’s homecoming.

“I’m getting pretty excited,” said Glenna, who admitted to being nervous because her house wasn’t clean. “Everybody keeps telling me he isn’t going to care.”

She said Hollie has grown 6 inches in the time her dad has been gone, and with school and extracurricular activities, including her daughter’s upcoming eighth-grade graduation, “I just don’t know what to expect.”

But she predicted Peter, who’s “very easygoing,” will be fine as he assimilates back into civilian life.

Ready to roll

Spc. Lou Henry will have a big surprise awaiting him at Memorial Coliseum today – a new ride.

Henry bought a 1971 Datsun 240Z on e-Bay while he was overseas, but what he doesn’t know is that his family had it washed and waxed so it would be ready to roll today.

His mother, Kelli Hacker, said a lot of Lou’s family and friends will be at the coliseum today – in matching attire.

“I designed T-shirts with his picture on it,” she said. The messages are personalized, like “My son, my hero,” and “My uncle, my hero.” She expects from 30 to 40 relatives will be on hand to greet Lou.

The family will celebrate his safe return tonight at the Redwood Inn on Main Street, where Lou was looking forward to having a sausage roll.

On Monday, Kelli was trying to stay busy so she didn’t get too “emotionally excited,” and so the time would go fast.

“I can’t wait to get my hands on him,” she said.