A hero’s welcome

October 20, 2009

By Tim Pfarr

Soldiers receive warm greeting after returning from Afghanistan

Brandon Lynch steals a kiss from his girlfriend Christina Douglas as soon as he exits the car. Behind them, partygoers greet the other pilots.

Brandon Lynch steals a kiss from his girlfriend Christina Douglas as soon as he exits the car. Behind them, partygoers greet the other pilots.

After spending the past year in Afghanistan as a medical evacuation helicopter pilot, Brandon Lynch, 32, returned to the United States last week. With Lynch were five of his fellow pilots from Charlie Company 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion, based out of Mather, Calif.The pilots debriefed at Fort Lewis and made a special trip to Issaquah for a homecoming celebration with Lynch’s family and friends, as well as numerous Issaquah residents who wished to thank the pilots for their service.

Tacey Powers, Lynch’s aunt, hosted the party at her house in Sammamish Beach Club. She said Lynch — a tactical operations officer — and Company Leader Dan Anderson visit her each year for an annual volleyball tournament in remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001.

The group of pilots drove to the homecoming party together, receiving hugs and handshakes as soon as they stepped out of the car.

“Right now is surreal,” Lynch said after receiving a big hug and a kiss from his girlfriend, Christina Douglas, who flew from Sacramento to attend the party.

Douglas said she felt the same way.

“It’s almost like it’s not really happening,” she said. “I’m almost in denial.”

The pilots quickly went inside to get drinks, grab plates of food and chat about working overseas, as well as the tremendous elation of being back home.

“It feels great,” said Tom Lemmons, team leader, who spent three of the past four years serving overseas in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said he now looks forward to a two-month vacation with his wife and three children, as well as a trip to the Bahamas in November.

“My wife and I need to reconnect,” he said.

However, Lynch will only have two weeks off, as he works full time for the National Guard. During his vacation, he will accompany Douglas on a business trip to Chicago.

Douglas is also a pilot in the National Guard, and she and Lynch will both deploy to Iraq next August.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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