L to R: Cody, 13, Tracy, SSgt. Parsons and Sierra, 9 (front)

Parsons' sister, Saundra Ballengee helps prepare the dinner in his honor

By Bob Weaver

Staff Sergeant Randy Parsons has been home in Calhoun for a few days, on a leave from the war in Iraq and his station in Germany. His family and friends gave him a surprise get-together yesterday at the Calhoun Park.

The 14-year veteran said "I was completely surprised. They kept a perfect secret," as dozens of well-wishers joined in a family-style dinner.

"I've been in Iraq for twelve months and I want you to know what a wonderful job your West Virginia soldiers are doing," he said. Parsons, who was originally a member of the 1092nd Engineers in Spencer a few years ago, said he bumped into several of them in the war-torn country.

"They're great workers, believe me. I want you to be sure and tell your readers they should be proud," Parsons said.

Parsons and his wife, the former Tracy McKown, said they try to read the Hur Herald every day. "It has become important to us, staying in touch with home.

Carl Ballengee offers blessing for his brother-in-law and the food

It was a real family and friends get-together

Both their children, Cody, 13, and Sierra, 9, have been attending school in Germany.

Parsons said he sure would like to be in Spencer this week when the 1092nd comes home.