October 17, 2007 Edition

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New baby receives special welcome

Jeremy Howard enjoys some quality time with his newborn son, Aiden, during his recent leave from his deployment to Iraq. Aiden was born Sept. 10, three days after his father returned to Arkansas.

Gretchen Hunt

When Aiden Howard came into this world on Sept. 10, he received an extra special welcome. His father, SPC Jeremy Howard of Jonesboro, had traveled from Iraq to witness his son's birth.

Jeremy and his wife, Kendra, found out before he left for Iraq in February that they were expecting a child. They soon learned it would be a son. They were able to coordinate Jeremy's 18-day leave with a scheduled induction to be sure he would be here for his son's birth.

The family began making preparations for the new arrival, as Jeremy continued to serve. Kendra was able to share her experiences with Jeremy by calling him on the phone during doctor's visits. He was able to hear the baby's heartbeat and heard the ultrasound technician announce the gender of the baby, but it still wasn't the same.

"I mainly just wanted him to be here to go to the doctor's appointments and see the ultrasounds and feel the baby's movements and stuff like that," Kendra said. "I did get the ultrasounds recorded and then had them transferred to DVD format and sent them to him so he could watch them on his computer."

Jeremy is the son of Mechelle Teel of Tahlequah, Okla., and Kenny Howard of Jonesboro, both former residents of Walnut Ridge.

Mechelle said she cannot imagine Jeremy having not been able to come home for Aiden's birth.

"He has proven a natural at being a father, just as Kendra has at being a mother," she said. "It is amazing to see Jeremy with Aiden and the love and pride that just oozes out of him."

His father agrees.

"I was ecstatic that he was home for one of the biggest moments of his entire life," Kenny said. "I'm so proud of him. I hated to see him go and can't wait for him to get back home."

The trip from Iraq to Arkansas included many stops as Jeremy went first to Kuwait, then Ireland, then Atlanta and then Dallas before arriving in Little Rock.

He arrived home on Sept. 7 and was able to stay with his wife and new son until Sept. 26, when he returned to Iraq.

Kendra said it was even harder to let him go this time.

"While he was here, I often forgot that he wasn't here to stay," she said. "It hurt me more for him to have to leave Aiden because he's so proud of him and loves him so much. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have to leave your newborn child."

Mechelle said she was glad to see her son remains a positive and upbeat person despite things he has had to endure and witness while in Iraq.

"I worried, and still do, that the war would harden him and make him callous and cynical, but so far he is taking it all as well as he can," she said. "He has lost very close friends and that has been incredibly hard on him. He says it sure makes you appreciate what you have at home and teaches you to value every day and never take time for granted."

Aiden completes five generations

Aiden's arrival was even more special as he completed five generations on both sides of his maternal grandparents' families. Linda and Tony Teel, who live in Walnut Ridge, are the proud great-grandparents.

"We are so blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate the birth of our fifth living generation on both sides of our families," Linda said.

On Linda's side of the family, her mother, Opal Wasson of Fort Smith, formerly of Walnut Ridge, completes the five generations. On Tony's side, the five generations are completed with his parents, William Jr. and Knowles Teel, who also live in Walnut Ridge.

These family members, along with Kendra, Jordan Howard and Heath Teel, Tyler and Trevor, all gathered at Tony and Linda's home on Sept. 23 to welcome the new addition.

Linda said having Jeremy home in time for his son's birth was a Godsend.

"There is not a day that goes by but what we think of Jeremy and pray for his safe return home for good," she said "We love him and miss him."

Other local family members include Aiden's great-grandmother Minnie Howard of Walnut Ridge and many aunts, uncles and cousins. All of his family anxiously await the end of his deployment.

"I tell him he should be able to feel the love even all the way over there there is so much of it sent his way daily," his mother said. "That and 'be safe.'"

(Note: Jeremy Howard is serving with Bravo Troop, 1-4 Cavalry, 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Ft. Riley, Kansas. His unit is stationed at Camp Falcon in the Rasheed/Dora district of Baghdad. He is expected to return to the states in May. Anyone who would like to send correspondence to Howard can do so through mail at Spc. Jeremy Howard, Unit 42535 Box 1-4 Cav Raiders B-Troop, APO AE 09361 or e-mail at jeremy_j_howard@hotmail.com.)

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