The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 25, 2013

Welcome Home


When the company arrived home, only Alina and friends were there to meet R.J. The children were waiting at home, expecting Alina’s return so they could take family photos. Little did they know, R.J. was just minutes away, and he was going to give them a big pre-Thanksgiving surprise.

Though Alina’s oldest daughter, Haleigh, 13, knew her step-dad was home thanks to a little slip-up, the other four children seemed to have no idea, although R.J.’s oldest son, Robby, 10, had a hunch that his dad was coming home.

“[Haleigh] wouldn’t tell me the surprise,” Robby said. “I was like, ‘what’s the surprise,’ and she was like, ‘guess.’ I said, ‘my dad’s coming home early,’ and she said, ‘nope.’ I know it’s got to be that, there’s no other surprise that can happen. It didn’t really surprise me at all.”

As the cameraman, secretly an Ottumwa Courier reporter, got the children to sit together for a quick photo, R.J. came through the back door of their home to surprise his family. It took all of them a second to realize exactly who they were looking at standing in their doorway, and a state of shock seemed to come over their faces.

Robby and his little brother, Michael, 3, quickly ran to put on their camouflage outfits so they could match their dad, who was still sporting his National Guard uniform. More pictures and plenty of hugs followed, as the Masons properly welcomed back their surprise soldier.

The Masons were just one example of the many joyful 833rd Company homecoming stories from the weekend. Getting to come home just before the holiday season was surely the best gift the soldiers and their families could ask for. Welcome home, 833 Engineer Company, and thank you for helping to keep us all safe.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh

Text Only
Southeast Iowa
  • Propane suppliers: buy ahead to avoid price spikes DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — State officials and propane suppliers are advising consumers to fill their tanks before cold weather arrives because prices could climb again this winter. The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports ( ) prices will

    July 23, 2014

  • Military Retiree Appreciation Day Aug. 28 near Pella A military Retiree Appreciation Day will be held Thursday, Aug. 28 at the Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino in Altoona, Iowa. Retirees from all branches of the armed forces and their family members are eligible to attend. The event will run from

    July 23, 2014

  • Report: Iowa third among states in child well-being DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A new national report on the well-being of children released Tuesday ranked Iowa third in the nation, up four places from last year, the best showing for the state in 25 years. The Kids Counts report from the Annie E. Casey Fo

    July 23, 2014

  • Report: Iowa third among states in child well-being DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A new national report on the well-being of children ranks Iowa third in the nation, up four places from last year. The Kids Counts report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says Iowa ranks first among all states

    July 22, 2014

  • MHP designated a Blue Zones Worksite OSKALOOSA — Blue Zones Project Oskaloosa today announced Mahaska Health Partnership has been named a designated Blue Zones Worksite. Mahaska Health Partnership was designated after completing the necessary items in the Blue Zones Project worksite ple

    July 22, 2014

  • 072214 Medics Skills Photo Local medics advance skills

    Six EMTs from Mercy Medical Center have completed the work necessary to become paramedics.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eddyville gets $1M federal grant for flood project EDDYVILLE, Iowa (AP) — The city of Eddyville is getting more than $1 million to improve its stormwater handling system to protect the city from Des Moines River flooding. The funding, announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, comes from the Federa

    July 22, 2014

  • Art show photo 2 Young artists show work at Oskaloosa Art Center

    OSKALOOSA—Several pieces of art were on display at the Oskaloosa Art Center Friday featuring works by kids in local elementary schools. The artists include those from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Briana Bartlett, who teaches art for elementary

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Fundraiser for soldiers' families approaching

    CENTERVILLE — Justin Zaputil remembers when Master Sgt. Travis Riddick died. The common reactions didn’t feel right. Mourning and then moving on left something undone. It didn’t seem to accomplish what Zaputil and a handful of others wanted. It didn’

    July 21, 2014

  • 072114 Howard Service Photo 2 Hundreds attend Howard graveside services Several hundred men, women and children attended the 11 a.m. Saturday graveside services for Moulton native Staff Sgt. Robert E. “Bobby” Howard at Sunset View Cemetery north of Moulton.Pastor Brian Hargrave officiated. Hargrave talked about why we co

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

AP National