son, share joy of seeing their babies
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
Holding his first born for the first time made coming home a little
sweeter for a Ripley County soldier.
Its perfect, was Sgt. Jeremy Mays reply
when asked how it felt to hold his five-month-old daughter, Peyton.
Family members who met the Versailles soldier at the airport captured
his feelings on film when he saw his wife, Kendra, and daughter.
He had a big grin on his face, noted sister-in-law,
Three generations of the May family were gathered at the home
of Gene and Linda May just south of Versailles on Saturday to
celebrate Christmas and the safe return of the couples youngest
son, Jeremy, from Iraq.
Sgt. Jeremy May serves in the Army Alpha Battery 2nd of the 20th
Field Artillery 41st Fire Brigade. He is home for a short leave
and will be returning to Iraq on January 13.
Jeremy joined the Army upon graduation from South Ripley High
School in 2005 and immediately knew he would be deployed to Iraq.
While he didnt expect the deployment so soon after enlistment,
he met the challenge head on.
He has won NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) of his company, battalion,
brigade and is up for the honor by the multi national division
board. He has amassed six army achievement medals.
This is the soldiers second tour in Iraq and he has re-upped
for three more years. I did it for my dad, he told
The Versailles Republican. He did 36 months in Vietnam and
Ill keep re-enlisting until I do the same in Iraq,
The youngest of seven brothers, Jeremy said he has the utmost
respect for his father, Gene.
Jeremys return home to see his child after being at war
brought back memories for his parents, Gene and Linda.
While nearly everything is different from when Gene served in
Vietnam, the separation from loved ones is the same. There is
something else this father and son share. Gene, too, was gone
when his first son, Daniel, was born.
Linda remembers how the Red Cross had to send a telegram to her
husband, who was aboard the USS Hoel, a guided missile destroyer.
I always teased Linda saying I wanted a ten pound baby boy,
Gene laughed. He got what he wanted - he just wasnt there
to see it. How he felt when the telegram came? A lot of
mixed emotions, Gene shared. It was three months before
he saw his son. I still have the telegram, Daniel
noted of the message heralding his birth.
The difference between Gene and Jeremys experiences was
Jeremy was in constant contact with his wife, talking via webcam,
email and telephone.
Genes mother, Dorothy May, shared Christmas with her family
and said she too has memories of war. Both her sons, Gene and
Don, were in the Vietnam War at the same time. Don was serving
in the Mediterranean and Gene in Vietnam. They both called
home that Christmas, remembered Dorothy, saying nothing
was more important that year than hearing the voices of her sons.
She also had brothers who served in World War II and said in that
war, you just waited weeks or months for a letter. Communication
has truly changed the landscape for soldiers and their families.
The May family knows about separation and war. They have had members
of their family serve in every branch of the military dating back
Gene especially knows about war. Having been in combat,
I know what these boys are going through, he stated.
The Mays are proud of their family. Weve got seven
great sons with seven great wives, Gene noted. The Mays
attribute their success in raising seven boys who have never been
in trouble to having a faith based home. Oh, yes, they were
always in church, Linda agreed it was the key. Gene attributes
the boys' behavior to having a good mother and the boys agree
it didnt hurt to have a healthy fear of their father.
Jeremys brothers include Troy and wife, Beth; Michael and
wife, Andrea; David and wife, Beth; Joseph and wife, Laura; Stephen
and wife, Kim; and Daniel and wife, Heather. Nine grandchildren,
five born in the past 18 months, round out the May family for
Daniel has served in the Air Force during Desert Storm and Troy
was the only one not home for Christmas this year. Hes a
career Air Force man who has also just returned from Iraq and
is stationed in Texas.
The May home bustled with voices and laughter and the sweet sound
of babies cries on Saturday as they celebrated.
Sgt. Jeremy says he truly enjoys the time spent with his family,
but will return to Iraq to take care of his soldiers.
He knows the cost of war through separation and concluded that
he feels lucky to have such a supportive wife.
Im here for him, Kendra smiled.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
sees baby girl for the first time
TOP: Pictured are Sgt. Jeremy May, with wife Kendra, and
daughter Peyton. He saw Peyton for the first time Christmas
night when he arrived home from his second tour of duty
BELOW: Gene May, pictured right, knows the pain of being
away from his wife when his first child was born. He, too,
was serving his country in Vietnam, when his first child,
Daniel, was born. He is pictured with Daniel, (Jeremy's
brother), and wife, Linda. Gene says he knows the sacrifices
three of his sons have made as they have served in the military
in a war zone.