“Being in Washington when my son lands on U.S. soil would make him and us feel really good,” Tammy Elmore told the Times-News on Friday.
Her son Joshua Elmore is currently stationed in Afghanistan but is set to return home next month with the rest of his infantry unit to their army base in Ft. Lewis, Wash.
The Lincolnton soldier is also due back to his native North Carolina town in December. Due to security reasons, his exact return dates cannot be published.
“They all need family waiting on their arrival,” Tammy said of the unit.
But she and several of the other men’s families are having a difficult time procuring the necessary funds for November’s homecoming.
As a result, Tammy has been hosting fundraisers and seeking donations from the community to raise money for the trip out West and to compile care packages for the returning soldiers. Additional money will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that aids injured soldiers upon their return home.
Deployed in March, Joshua’s unit, then 12 strong, has since lost two men and seen two others critically wounded.
Tammy was taken aback when Joshua, her only child, decided to enlist two years ago after the tanking economy kept him from securing a suitable job.
“He tried college and work, but it wasn’t panning out,” she said. “Next thing I knew he was going into the Army.”
While she said her initial thoughts were, “Oh, no,” she knew her brother, a 20-year Army veteran currently based at Ft. Bragg, could be there for Joshua.
Tammy typically gets phone calls from her son a couple times each month, but the short conversations do little to curb her constant worry about her son’s daily battles on the front lines.
“It’s been hell on the parents,” she said.
Her fears escalate when she doesn’t hear from her son in several days, knowing he’s on a risky mission on foreign soil.
“That’s when we really, really worry … they are so dangerous,” she said.
Her future son-in-law and son’s best friend, Cody Richards, a Texas native, is also in Joshua’s unit and daily on her mind.
“We have two (loved ones) over there,” she said. “With everything he’s (Joshua’s) experienced, I’m just wondering (from) one day to the next if I’m going to get that phone call or knock at the door (he didn’t make it).”
Tammy often seeks comfort from prayer and frequent phone and email chats with other soldiers’ parents. She also attends a support group called PODS (i.e. Parents of Deployed Soldiers).
She last talked to Joshua for two minutes on Thursday, she said.
The 22-year-old North Lincoln graduate, promoted this month to E-4 specialist, already has plans during his leave to re-enlist for Ft. Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division, Tammy said.
While warfare and the fight for freedom are the top priorities on the infantry unit’s daily agenda, they’ve also been able to aid the local Afghan children by handing out school supplies. A journalist even interviewed the men during one of the events and plans to send the footage to local news stations back home to air for family and friends, Tammy said.
While her target fundraising goal is $6,000, she understands that may not be possible. She’s currently raised a little over $200 and has setup a Bank of America account for community donations. To donate money, contact Tammy Elmore at (704) 201-1753 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate care package items or for a list of items, call Joanna Coram at (828) 358-6332.
“People need to pay attention to these soldiers who are deployed,” Tammy said. “There are a lot who don’t get packages from home.”