Baldwin resident waits anxiously for son to return from Middle East
Patriotic signs of support are popping up around Baldwin City supporting the troops in Iraq. There are flags flying and yellow ribbons around trees.
That yellow ribbon at 916 Grove has more meaning than most. That's where Shirley Bones -- whose son, John Bones, is on the front lines in Iraq -- lives. The 2002 Baldwin High School graduate is with the Army's 3rd Infantry, which is shown daily in the thick of fighting.
Shirley Bones keeps a close eye on what's going on and waits for any word.
"As far as I know, he's okay," she said. "I know he's in the 3rd Infantry 3rd Brigade. They've been showing the 2nd Brigade on television, so I'm sure he's right behind them."
Bones had been able to put her son's involvement with the Army away until the war actually broke out.
"It's just now hitting home," she said. "Before it was just that he was over there. It hadn't hit until just last week. I don't get out in Baldwin. I just stay to myself. But when I read the story last week about Cody Fordemwalt, I know Myrna (Arnote, Fordemwalt's mother) and I appreciated what was said.
"I read the one the week before and I wanted to thank the Legion Post Commander for asking for names and addresses of those overseas," said Bones. "I appreciate the articles and letters that people want to send. I sent him a phone book from Baldwin and he appreciated that. He wrote a couple of teachers and someone he put hay up for."
There hasn't been much word from her son. The last was a letter postmarked Feb. 24. So now it's the waiting game between letters and calls. It's helped her to see the stories in the Signal about the local ties to the war and the column that was in last week's edition about her son.
"Everyone calls him Bones. I liked that. I appreciated what was written. I know John will appreciate it, too," she said. "The last time I talked to him was six weeks ago. He had also called his dad and brothers at T-Bones Trucking in Ottawa.
"In his last letter, they were the words of a young man, a grown adult, not my baby boy," said Bones. "It's hard, especially now that it's actually happening. It's like Myrna said, you never think your child will join the Army and a war will breakout."
There are a lot of things that she can't believe, can't get used to.
"It's just hard that our kids aren't old enough to drink beer, but they're old enough to carry weapons over there," she said, adding that he's good at what he does, even though she wishes it was something safer. "In basic training he was certified as a sharpshooter. It must have been all the paintball fights he was in over here.
"He wants to be a Ranger. He lacked a quarter credit from being that. I was concerned about that. Why not be a cook or a truck driver?" she said. "He's not that way. He always wanted to be doing something."
And, in her heart of hearts, she knows her son will make it through all right.
"He'll be okay," said Bones. "If he shoots the gun like he shot the paint ball gun or maybe he won't have to shoot at all. He's too ornery not to be all right. Ever since he was young he's always been talkative and in a good mood. I know he still is.
"When they started talking about taking the first prisoners of war it hit me that we used to joke about that," she said. "He said how he would be playing cards for food with his captors."
Of course what she thinks about most is him coming home. That's what keeps her going and she also has a mischievous plan for when that day happens.
"This is John's home. Someday I want to buy a house here. This is our home. John thinks of Baldwin as home," she said. "When he does come home, I'm going to break his legs so he can't go back. I think we'll hog tie him down. He told me he would stay with me forever."