Thursday, April 3, 2003

Safe and sound at home

Tristate reacts to war

[photo] John Handorf is a West Chester police officer and a Military Police officer who returned from Afghanistan and Qatar early Wednesday. He is happy to be back with his wife, Melanie and his children (from left) Jordan, 5, Jonathan, 12, and Joshua, 8 in their Price Hill home.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
WEST CHESTER TWP. - A military police officer welcomed home early Wednesday sent a message of gratitude to West Chester police and his country.

West Chester Township Police Officer John Handorf served 10 months in the 377th Unit, working force protection, manning the perimeter of the Bagram Air Base in Bagram, Afghanistan. He also was in Al Udeid, Qatar.

"I'm back. I'm safe. I'm happy," Handorf, 38, said Wednesday.

Handorf said he appreciates what he has at home even more after seeing the horrors of war, and he was grateful to his colleagues for helping care for his family while he was deployed.

The father of three young children saw a lot of youngsters maimed and/or killed by land mines.

"You pick up a kid that's 5 years old and has mine injuries - his leg or arm blown off - it's not pleasant for anyone, but it hurts worse when you have children of your own safe at home and these kids are getting blown up," Handorf said. Also, "common diseases that Americans take for granted that they can cure were killing people and kids over there. The old and the young die first."

He returned to his Price Hill home at 1 a.m. and was joyously greeted by his wife, Melanie, and two sons, Jonathan, 12, Joshua, 8, and daughter, Jordan, 5.

His children took the day off from school Wednesday to spend time with their dad.

While he was gone, West Chester officials and police continuously checked in on his family, he said, and the FOP sent him care packages.

The township maintained his medical insurance so he didn't have to change providers.

Jennifer Edwards

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