By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Features Writer
There are no words to describe what it was like standing in the blazing setting El Paso sun.. watching that plane appear in the far distance, only to land right in front of us with our soldiers finally stepping foot onto USA soil. Amazing, emotional, relieving, patriotic, filled with pride, admiration, gratitude … it is just absolutely indescribable. Welcome home, big brother. – Jacque Donaldson (sister of 1Lt. Stephen Donaldson)
The anticipation is palpable. Like static electricity, it jumps from one person to the next in the crowd of people staring up into the sky in search of a winged vessel carrying a most precious cargo.
“Is that it?”
Shielding their eyes from the West Texas sun shining on Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, the assembled Army families are collectively released from a 10-month vigil as the airplane bearing their much loved soldiers touches down, finally, on American soil.
Tears of relief and joy, pride and patriotism slide down their cheeks as their soldiers march out. Home. Home at last.
The TownSquareBuzz Foundation would like to join the loved ones of the 3/1 AD Military Police Platoon in welcoming 1Lt. Stephen Donaldson of McKinney, and his fellow soldiers home from deployment. For the past 10 months, the 3/1 AD Military Police Platoon has been posted in Baraki, Afghanistan.
The 3/1 IBCT Military Police Platoon is charged with executing law and order, area security, maneuver and mobility support, internment and resettlement, and police intelligence operations in support of Brigade Couterinsurgency Operations anywhere in the world at any time.
Donaldson, a 2004 graduate of McKinney North High School, and a 2008 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, is the son of Brad and Karen Donaldson of McKinney, and brother of Jacque Donaldson of New York City. For his exceptional service and leadership under extreme circumstances in Afghanistan, Donaldson, an Airborne Ranger, was recently honored with the Bronze Star Medal. He is currently posted at Ft. Bliss located in El Paso, Texas.
During Donaldson’s deployment, members of the McKinney community were able to be of service as well. Through the efforts of Donaldson’s high school baseball coach, Brandon Milam, the baseball booster clubs at each McKinney high school, as well as, through Milam’s church, Donaldson and his fellow soldiers were able to distribute much needed shoes, socks and sweaters to the many children they encountered along the way.
As it was proclaimed by the City of McKinney and entered into the Congressional Record of the 112th Congress, Second Session, every Friday in McKinney is Red Shirt Friday. On Friday, July 20, 2012, in honor of McKinney’s home town hero, 1Lt. Stephen Donaldson, and in celebration of the 3/1 AD MP Platoon homecoming, the Town Square Buzz Foundation and the citizens of McKinney, Texas wear their Red Shirts in gratitude for your service. Thank you, and welcome home.
The TownSquareBuzz Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting veterans, service members and their families in North Texas. As the philanthropic arm of TownSquareBuzz.com, the mission of the Foundation is to engage residents and raise community awareness about the unique needs of military families and service members by directing resources to support and improve their overall well-being.
McKinney’s Red Shirt Friday initiative is local to the national Red Shirts Friday campaign. The TownSquareBuzz Foundation sells Red Shirts to be worn each Friday in honor of those who serve. Red Shirts can be purchased for $10. To order online, click here. All proceeds benefit the Community Lifeline Center to provide short-term services directly to veterans in Northern Collin County.
Photo credits: Photo with quote by Jacque Donaldson. Deployment photos by Sgt. Farmer and courtesy of 3/1 AD Military Police Platoon Facebook page. Pictured in all photos: 1Lt. Stephen Donaldson of McKinney. Photo 1: Donaldson returns home. Photo 2: Donaldson on patrol. Photo 3: Donaldson receives Bronze Star Medal for “exceptionally meritorious service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom”