Saturday, March 30, 2002

Hometown Navy man welcomed

A sailor's homecoming sends waves of jubilation

By Michael D. Clark,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MILFORD — David Gregory returned home Friday, tearfully hugging some of the reasons he is fighting global terrorism.

        The Goshen High School graduate reunited with his family in Milford after a stint in the Arabian Sea, south of Afghanistan, on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

[photo] Janet Hardin of Goshen rushes through the door to hug her 20-year-old son David Gregory, who just returned from being on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        His arms enveloped his mother, Janet Hardin, who hadn't seen him since he shipped out last September, only days after the terrorist assaults in New York City and Washington, D.C.

        The 20-year-old sailor said he often fortified his commitment and courage while halfway around the world by recalling his loved ones.

        “The way I looked at it, I was over there protecting my family and friends,” he said.

        “It's so great to be back home. This is incredible,” said the sailor, who is on shore leave and must report back to the Roosevelt on April 11.

        Ms. Hardin said, “I'm ecstatic. I couldn't wait to see him again.”

        His father joined in the hugging and described his son's homecoming as “a tremendous relief.”

        “I'm just absolutely over-joyed. He is my youngest son and so he is my baby,” said Jerry Gregory Sr.

        “It was hard on all of us,” he said, referring to Mr. Gregory's extended family that gathered to greet the serviceman. “But he had a job to do and he did his job well. We're very proud of him,” said his father.

        Jerry Gregory Jr., David's older brother, was at Norfolk, Va., Wednesday to greet him when the Roosevelt pulled into port. He explained that his brother was already scheduled last year to depart with the aircraft carrier on Sept. 12 when the terrorists attacked.

        “All of us started to get frightened. It was very emotional,” he recalled.

        Lisa Sydnor's reunion with her son, Dorion Fears, is yet to happen in person. But the Forest Park resident — along with a national TV audience — already saw her son in a special and unforgettable way.

        Navy Petty Officer Fears, a graduate of Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts, was also on the Roosevelt and sang the national anthem Wednesday on a morning network TV show as part of a tribute to New York City firefighters who died in the Sept. 11.

        Her first reaction to seeing her son on TV: “Oh my baby has lost lots of weight! He looks so good and healthy,” said Ms. Sydnor.

        She plans to travel to Norfolk soon to visit her 23-year-old son, who is married with three children. “I've been on cloud nine since I saw him on TV and knew he was safe,” she said.


Race cases near deals
Opening Day marks start, end
Call her Cinci Freedom
Good Friday a time of hope
Terror colors Cross march
Mideast situation worries those with relatives there
UC teacher, students fear Mideast eruption into more bloodshed
Hometown Hero: Advocate for mentally ill
- Hometown Navy man welcomed
Tristate A.M. Report
Victim's father struggles to cope with stabbing
MCNUTT: Neighborhoods
RADEL: Opening Day
SAMPLES: Storytellers
THOMPSON: Faith Matters
Judge orders community service
Springfield to lose its only taxi service
Change in Ohio tax law haunts state
Lima city workers ready to strike over contract
Motorist shot and wounded by gun dropped by officer
Ohio stamp stars Cleveland
Priest asked to leave his duties after accusation
Ex-deputy guilty of drug charges
Former bridge inspector admits soliciting bribes
Girl drowns in hotel indoor pool
Kentucky News Briefs
Lawmaker suggests subs to sink casinos
Six accused of counterfeiting
Superintendent named
Tax issues occupy both houses of Ky. legislature
Way smoothed for car plant