Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Fourth of July Reunion- and this time, it's not mine.

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Jonathan... meet your Daddy, Spc. Brent Goolsby

Soldiers surprise families in July 4th reunion
By Spc. Bryce S. Dubee
July 6, 2005

ATLANTA (Army News Service, July 6, 2005) – Four Soldiers serving in Iraq returned to surprise their families with a reunion at the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Fourth of July Parade.

Organizers for the parade contacted the Army and found four Soldiers eligible to take leave for rest and recuperation and arranged to reunite them with their families in Georgia.

Arriving on Sunday, the Soldiers had a day to relax, get cleaned up and enjoy a dinner with Miss America. The next morning, they waited, hidden on a hotel shuttle bus for the parade to begin, while their wives sat in the grandstands, clueless to the fact that their husbands were less than 200 yards away.

In the bus, the Soldiers grew nervous, excited with the anticipation of seeing their families.

“Do you think my daughter will remember me?” Staff Sgt. Terrence Alford asked 2nd Lt. Stephen Lucas and the other two returning fathers on the bus, who reassured him that she definitely would.

Spc. Brent Goolsby was not only reuniting with his wife Arianna -- who he hadn’t seen in half a year -- but seeing a member of his family who he had never met, Jonathan Aiden Goolsby, his newborn son.

“I just want to meet my son,” said Goolsby. “I’m a father, but I’m not really yet a father.”

The four wives and their children were called out to the starting line of the parade as honorary grand marshals where Miss America performed a song for them. During the song, from around the corner, the shuttle bus slowly pulled out into the street in front of where the families stood. As the song ended, the doors opened and out leapt the four Soldiers with bouquets and smiles, to the total shock of their wives.

The emotional reunion in the middle of Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta created many a teary eye among the spectators. After the ceremony, the families, now whole, took their seats back in the grandstands to watch the rest of the parade before heading home to enjoy the rest of their leave.

“I’m still in a state of shock, I mean I really can’t believe he’s here,” said Jo Anne Griffen, wife of Sgt. Robert Griffen.

“This is a great experience, I feel so lucky to be here,” Sgt Griffin said. “My only wish is that we could have brought more people back with us.”

Sitting with his son in the stands, Goolsby looked up with a smile from ear to ear, “This feels good, this feels really, really good.”

(Editor’s note: Spc. Bryce S. Dubee writes for the Third U.S. Army Public Affairs Office.)


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