Soldier enjoys being home for the holidays

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

It is the wish of every parent to have their children home for the holidays.

And, for this holiday season, the wish is a reality for Ray and Robin Gardner of Friendship. Their son, Brandon, is home after completing his overseas tour in Kuwait and Iraq. “He was gone too long,” said Brandon’s father. “We’re glad to have him home.”

Specialist Brandon Gardner is a member of the Delta Company 2-238th GSAB (General Support Aviation Battalion) as an aircraft mechanic. The 2006 South Ripley High School graduate received his pilot’s license before entering into the military and hopes that his experience with flying and as a mechanic will make him a good candidate for the aviation program. “It’s my goal to fly the Blackhawks that I work on,” he told The Versailles Republican.

Specialist Gardner entered basic training in April 2007 at Ft. Sill, OK. He was later transferred to Ft. Eustace in Virginia to begin his Advanced Individual Training as a Blackhawk aircraft mechanic.
In January he was stationed in Kuwait for nearly a year. He enjoyed his overseas tour in Kuwait, with a few days spent in Iraq. “There was always something to do,” he noted.

“The military is a positive experience for a small-town boy. You meet people from all over the world,” he said. “And it matures you faster.”

Gardner stayed in touch with his family via email and weekly phone calls while he was away. He is glad to be home and seeing his family this year for the holidays. According to Gardner, Thanksgiving 2008 was spent in Ft. Sills with the officers serving the men.

Although he joined the military so that he could be a pilot, Gardner doesn’t know if he will re-enlist when his time is up saying he has some time to think about it.

Gardner’s father told The Versailles Republican he had some tense moments when his son was in Kuwait and particularly in Iraq. He said there was a short clip about a crash in Baghdad, but he couldn’t get any more information for quite some time. He couldn’t talk to his son immediately either. It turned out this was a unit that Specialist Gardner served a short period with, but wasn’t on that particular mission when the aircraft went down.

Both father and son agreed that home is a great place to be for the holidays.

Spc. Brandon Gardner