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thedrifter
10-01-07, 06:57 AM
Local Marines glad to be home
10/01/07
By Andrea Freygang

Two Marines returned home safely from Iraq this past weekend.

Josh Reynolds from Rosedale and Justin Orange from Lindale both received a hero’s welcome from their families.

“I am at the top of the world, sleeping better at night seeing him sleeping safely in his bed safe and sound,” said Lisa Reynolds, Josh’s mom. “Just seeing the homecoming on base is awesome. Everyone should see one of those.”

“Yeah, it makes you proud to be an American,” said Josh’s father Steve Reynolds.”

Reynolds just returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq, and Orange returned from his first tour.

Click here for a previous story about Josh Reynolds.

“It feels great to be home,” said Josh Reynolds as he relaxed with his friends, family and Orange. “The first time I went over I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t really scared, and I had good leadership and a lot of support.

Both said joining the military was something they always wanted to do.

“My uncle was a Marine, and ever since I watched him go to boot camp I always wanted to be a Marine,” said Orange, whose job is to operate a machine gun.

Josh Reynolds was also a gunner and said he loved guns growing up and wanted to work with them as an adult. But what the two remember isn’t the shooting but the rebuilding and the children who always run on the street.

“The kids run up to us — they love us, and we give them candy, talk to them and they like hanging out,” said Orange, who said he has learned a little Arabic from interacting with the locals. “It does make you feel better. If the kids are around, you know what type of day you are going to have because it feels really good to have them around.”

Josh Reynolds said the military is slowly helping rebuild the country.

“I’m not doing the building, but schools and hospitals are being built, and we talk to the people who make it happen,” said Josh Reynolds, who recovered from injuries caused by a car bomb that sent shrapnel into his head and resulted in his being awarded a Purple Heart. “One mission last time I was there was to help civilians who had no water, so we helped get them fresh water they won’t get sick from.

“It’s slowly getting better, but we’re going to be there a while. Some of them don’t like us there, but I understand because I would be mad if they came to our country and patrolled our streets.”

Orange still has two more years in the Marines and returns to Iraq for a second tour in April.

“I had mixed emotions (about going the first time),” he said.

“I wanted to go, but the experience is unreal, and I was nervous, anxious and a little scared. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, but I support what we’re doing there 100 percent though some things could be done differently,” said Orange.

Orange’s girlfriend, Jill Looney, said the hardest part is waiting for phone calls because you don’t know the next time you’ll talk.

“I’ve recorded every message when we’ve talked and saved it so I can hear him talk,” she said. “I don’t watch TV, and everybody thinks they know what you’re going through, but you don’t know until you know how it feels.”

As for Josh Reynolds, he finishes his four-year commitment next spring and says he’s not returning.

“I did my service, and I’m done,” he said, with his mother adding that’s the best news she’s ever heard. “I want to be a Rome firefighter now.”

Josh’s girlfriend Danielle Mintey was also pleased.

“Every time he would call, I would walk out of where I was,” she said. “It was tough not knowing what was going on.”

For now, though, the two will spend the next month in Rome visiting family and relaxing.

“I’m just very proud of every one of them,” said Lisa Reynolds.

Ellie