Firefighter Back From Iraq

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

March 10, 2006

A Charlottesville firefighter who came back from serving in Iraq got a warm welcome home Friday. His friends surprised him at the airport--firetruck and all.

Army Reservist Ed Early arrived at the airport today from Iraq. A crew of family and firefighter buddies were anxiously waiting to welcome him home with the fire engine as well as homemade T-shirts.

Early, who's also a Charlottesville firefighter, left last May. Even though he's been in touch with the folks back home, actually being home, he says, is much sweeter.

"When I came in I didn't see anybody, and then they all showed up, I was pleasantly surprised," said Early.

"It's just like a family member being gone and it was good to see him come back in today safe,"said fellow firefighter Tim Cersley.

Early has been with the fire department for 16 years and the Army reserves even longer. This was his first time serving overseas. He calls the experience humbling.

"It makes you appreciate what you have over here even if you don't have much it's a lot better than what you can imagine what goes on over there," said Early.

But for this soldier, his time in Iraq isn't quite over yet. He's home for two weeks for what the Army calls rest and recuperation time. He says he plans to make the most of it before heading back for another five months. His friends are confident he'll make it back safely.

"We did a lot together before he was gone and I can't wait for him to get back so that we can get back to mountain biking and playing golf," said Cersley.

The Charlottesville Fire Department has three reservists working, but right now, Early is the only one on active duty.

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