Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Sfeir didn’t sleep last Friday night, as he waited to return home from Hawaii to Atlanta.
The 2005 Dawson County High School graduate served the last six months training Iraqi police in support of the war on terror. He arrived Saturday morning back to his home in Dawsonville and the loving arms of his proud family, who constantly worried the 20-year-old would not make it back.
“I’ve missed him so much. He’s so skinny,” said his mother Wendy Sfeir. “He said I’ve got to keep him from eating any McDonald’s or Burger King while he’s home.”
Joshua Sfeir will have a 21-day rest and rejuvenation before returning to his home base in Hawaii to begin training for a second tour expected to begin in May.
“We’ll be training in the mountains of northern California, sleeping on the freezing cold ground, preparing probably for Afghanistan. It’s not near as calm there as it is now in Iraq,” he said.
A Dawson County native, Sfeir received a true hero’s welcome Saturday morning as he arrived home with a sheriff’s office escort into town and a ceremony in his honor at the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.
Driving along Hwy. 53, the community came out holding signs, waving flags and tying yellow ribbons to welcome Sfeir home and express their pride in a native son.
“Joshua lives near us in the Juno community. We just wanted to come out and tell him how proud we are and welcome the hero home,” said Ron Young.
Sfier, a humble young man of few words, says hero is not a word he would call himself.
“Hero, that’s pushing it a little bit,” he said. “But it’s an honor. It feels pretty good to be called a hero.”
Bill Sexton, a veteran of the Vietnam and Korea wars, was part of a group of veterans that gathered Saturday morning to thank Sfeir for his service to America and tell him it will never be forgotten.
“When we got home from Vietnam, we were told to put on our civilian clothes before we got on a bus or plane, because the hecklers would go after us. They still knew because of our spit-shined boots and there were some fights, but it’s not ever going to be like that again,” Sexton said. “We’re real proud of him.”
Sfeir plans to spend the next few weeks catching up with his friends and family and maybe taking in a University of Georgia football game before heading back to Hawaii.
“I’m also going to spend some time recruiting, and maybe some time at the high school talking to the students,” he said.
And what a story he has to tell to those students, so many like himself, questioning what they’ll do after high school. In the Marine Corps, Sfeir found his calling. But, “It’s good to be home,” he said.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.