Nine soldiers and Marines were killed in Iraq over the last two days. That serves as a stark reminder of how many sons and daughters are not coming back. So far, 3,338 servicemen and women have died since the start of the war. That makes a Denham Springs soldier's homecoming that much more special. This soldier comes from a strong military background. WAFB 9NEWS has been told that since the sixth grade, Jared Miller wanted to be in the Army. He made that dream come true and Sunday, by returning home from his second tour in Iraq, he granted his family's wishes, as well.
Nikki Miller eagerly goes through the airport security. The young newlywed waits like so many other wives around the country, waiting for her husband, waiting for an American soldier. But, Nikki did not wait alone. 21-year-old Spc. Jared Miller serves with the 82nd Airborne Division. With his wife at his side, he braves the rush of family and friends from every direction.
Seeing Jared brings a wave of relief to Karen Messenger. Jared is her son, and she knows there are other mothers who will never share a moment like this. Karen Messenger says, "I wish they could all come home, but we also support them all being there. Glad that they are there for us all, here so we can enjoy our freedoms." Nikki Miller says, "It was like really hard to go through, but it's okay. It's really hard to go through, but it's okay. It's to be expected."
It was a little harder for Nikki. Just two weeks after, she and Jared said, "I do," he was deployed to Baghdad. Nikki Miller says, "I just love him and it's sweet. He always lifts my hopes up." Now that Jared is back home, he can joke about a real fear lifted off his shoulders. Jared Miller says, "It's a good feeling. I don't have to worry about getting blown up walking off the plane." Karen Messenger says, "Just thinking about how much relief he must feel to be safe for a little while."
Jared says what kept him safe was a gift from his grandpa. Jared Miller says, "He had this bible that he carried with him in World War II, and he just handed it to me and said anytime it get rough just open it up and read it and I'd be fine." Larry Oubre says, "We went through all World War II with it, so everything turned out great, so I gave it to him as a souvenir. Hope it brings him luck, too."
Jared will soon need luck. Nikki Miller says, "I'm just really proud of him, but I'm glad that he could come back home for two weeks." Jared is set to go back to Baghdad on May 14th. Jared tells us he really wants to make it out to an LSU baseball game. That's of course, after he spends some time with his new wife.