Family and friends turn out for O'Connell's return

Loni Graham, St. Thomas Correspondent

Folks waving American flags and holding Welcome Home signs lined the St. Thomas Main Street, as a car horn signaled Tim O'Connell's arrival from Camp McCoy at 2:35 p.m. Friday afternoon for his two-day break.

Tim flashed a smile as folks closed in around him. Still wearing his camouflage fatigues and looking very much the soldier he is, Tim, along with his dad, mom and aunt Susie McMillen, joined the happy crowd.

His godmother Karen Harvey was the first to eagerly greet him, as his cousins Jared and Caitlyn Harvey, Kelly McMillen and Tim's godfather Joel Blaschko followed. But Tim didn't get out of the car at the St. Thomas Sportsman's Park like a politician or movie star... jovial, smiling and enthusiastically waving to the crowd.

He was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, his smile became subtle as folks approached him to shake his hand, hug him and say a few welcoming words. He looked good... lost weight... but there was something different ... a change beyond his years.

It was so good to see him, shake his hand... feel his hug. Tim was uncomfortable with all the attention, but as the crowd dwindled, the man of few words seemed to relax a bit, especially around his immediate family and the children.

Mason Simon was delighted when Tim took a Red Bull patch off his sleeve and presented it to the young lad.

Tim's godmother stated later, He looks wonderful. It's so incredible to see him finally. He was taken back by the people thanking him for his sacrifices. He doesn't see it that way. He had a job to do

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