Will Ravenstein

Wellington Daily News

The holidays are a special time for family to get together and enjoy time spent. For three Wellington families, the song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” took on a special meaning as they welcomed their sons home from the military.

A gathering of the three took place Thursday night at the St. Anthony Catholic School building where Jared Shields, Remington Gilkey and Jason Norris were greeted by friends and family.

Toby Trott and the American Legion Riders from American Legion Post 90, Wellington, presented the three men with signed flags welcoming them home.

“This is an important deal for the Legion, Trott said. “We would like to do more for the community. If we have somebody that wants a welcome home like this, we can come out anytime you want to. A family gathering, if you want to, we can come to your house.”

The three grew up together on the football field forming an in-separable bond that continued through high school.

“It’s nice. Before we all embarked on this journey, we were brothers out on the football field,” Gilkey said. “Now we are brothers in arms. I’m kind of the odd-ball, being the only guy in the Navy. I just have to give them more crap then they give me.”

Gilkey is finishing up his training in San Diego, California, where he specializes in radio-cryptography.

Coming home was a nice change of pace for Gilkey, and he said being home seeing friends and family was great.

“It’s wonderful, you can’t really put it into words,” Gilkey said. “You miss them, but you can’t really put how much you miss them into words or why you miss them. They are basically family, so you miss that part of you, so you fill it with work.”

Both Shields and Norris joined the U.S. Army Infantry. Norris is stationed with the 2nd Striker Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Shields has been assigned to the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Both also said it was great to be home and be together again.

“It was great to know that they came home to see their family like I did,” Norris said. “It was great seeing them.”

“I wake up on time everyday when I’m in my bunk, but I come home and over sleep,” Shields said. “It feels awesome to sleep in your own bed, compared to sleeping in a big open bay. It feels good.”

While the time home is to be spent with family, several of the men have been seeing friends or are hunting.

Danielle Shields said she was just glad to have her son back in her home.

“I know I don’t get him very often,” she said. “You are use to having him in your house at 10-11 p.m., then they are gone. When they go, they don’t belong to you anymore. I can’t say, ‘Hey he needs to come home.’ He is owned by the government.”

Shields mentioned her first time seeing Jared in uniform, at his basic training graduation, she could see a difference in him.

“Very different, more mature,” she said. “He was always mature for his age anyways. Very happy and proud of him, to see him in that uniform was very exciting.”

For Gerard Gilkey, it was a more emotional time. Gilkey coached the three in youth football through sixth grade. The time spent with them on the field allowed for a different bond.

“Those guys are awesome, always have been,” he said. “Having spent so much time with those boys when they were little, it’s great to see what they have turned into. Those boys have been family to me. To watch them grow up and become what they are.”

Though the theme of not getting a lot of time with his son was expressed, that did not seem to bother Gilkey.

“From my understanding he has been doing a lot of soul searching, and is planning his life”, he said. Excited, proud, a train wreck, but it’s great.”

On Dec. 23, Remington ask his girlfriend, Tatum Haskins, to marry him on a ranch outside of Wellington. To which she said, ‘Yes.’

The three will finish spending time with friends and family before returning to their duty stations in January.

Shields will now begin training with his unit as they are schedule to deploy overseas this summer.

Norris will get the chance to meet his squad and start building the bond with them that is forged through training and combat.

Gilkey will return to San Diego to finish his training before being assigned to his post, unless he is assigned further, more advanced, training.