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thedrifter
12-24-07, 09:42 AM
The-Daily-Record.com
Nathaniel family delays Christmas celebration until soldier's return in mid-March
5 hours ago

By BOBBY WARREN

Staff Writer

WOOSTER -- The spirit of giving motivated Cody Nathaniel to enlist in the Marines and it was that same spirit that has led to his service in Iraq.

The 2005 Wooster High School graduate went to Iraq in August with the Task Force Guardian Unit to help secure the village of Fallujah. He was not scheduled to return to the states until mid-March, but a death in the family prompted the unexpected Christmastime visit.

Though the circumstances surrounding his visit were not the best, Cody Nathaniel said it was nice to be around loved ones this holiday season. But he will not be home for Christmas. He left Sunday to return to Fallujah.

Instead of celebrating Christmas a couple of days early, Cody Nathaniel asked the festivities be delayed until his return in March.

"He didn't want to celebrate now and have a high moment and then pulled down when he had to leave," said Don Nathaniel, his father.

There's also the matter of what to do with the gifts. Cody Nathaniel said he has no place to store anything in Fallujah.

"It's nice to see family at Christmas," Cody Nathaniel said. "I've been visiting family as much as I can and seeing some friends. I'm also trying to get back in the state of mind of going back to war."

"It's been wonderful to have him home," Don Nathaniel said. "Everybody wants to see him."

Because Christmas for the Nathaniel household will be delayed a few months, will the tree and all its trimmings remain? "Probably ... not," Don Nathaniel said. In addition to the family Christmas tree, there is one with all Cleveland Browns ornaments. Don Nathaniel said that one will likely remain until the March celebration.

In Iraq, Cody Nathaniel, a lance corporal, and his unit guard a pump house that provides water to Camp Fallujah. They also patrol several villages.

Before he arrived in Iraq, Cody Nathaniel said he only heard negative stories about what was going on in the country.

"You don't hear any of the great things," he said. "I didn't hear it until I personally saw it."

When the Marines patrol areas, children run up to them asking for food, candy and chocolate.

"They like us being there," he said.

Since he has been in Iraq, Cody Nathaniel said he has seen things calm down. The Iraqi people are helping identify where the insurgents are and tipping them off about where improvised explosive devices have been planted.

Though things have improved, he said there are still some subjects he preferred not to discuss.

"I like to keep that in the back of my mind. But I like Iraq. I think it's fun," Cody Nathaniel said.

He enjoys interacting with the children and those who are of a different culture. He said the mission is truly Iraqi Freedom because the military efforts seek to free the people. That is a major reason why he decided to join the Marines and serve in Iraq.

"I wanted to do something with my life," Cody Nathaniel said. "I want to help people."

He also wanted to take a path less traveled, one that involved a challenge.

When his son enlisted, Don Nathaniel, who also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, had a few words of advice: Keep your nose clean, head down and don't volunteer for anything. His son did not heed all of his advice. Cody Nathaniel's only in Iraq because he volunteered to be there.

"In just the few short months he has been in Iraq, I can definitely see my son has changed from a teenager into a man," Don Nathaniel said. "It's a definite change any father would be proud to see."

Being overseas has been difficult for Cody Nathaniel and his girlfriend, Jenna Craycraft.

"When he left for boot camp, it was tough," Craycraft said. And Iraq has been the hardest part because she doesn't get the telephone calls or letters like she did before.

When stateside, Cody National serves as a legal assistant. When he is discharged from the Marines, he wants something that will involve law and provide an adrenaline rush, perhaps the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service or on a SWAT team.

Though his son was not home long during this stay, Don Nathaniel said, "It's always a joyous moment for a parent to get their son home from a wartime event. It was nice to be able to pull the family together and not worry about the one who is away. It helped relieve pressure on everybody."

Business and Wayne County government reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at (330) 287-1638 or bwarren@the-daily-record.com.

Ellie