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Soldier returning from Iraq
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Wendy Sfier describes her oldest son, Joshua, as someone who would give up the shirt off his back.



“That’s how Josh is,” she said. “We’re just so proud of him.”Added his grandfather, Roy Foster: “One of the first things he asked us to send him when he went to Iraq was chewing gum and candy for the little Iraqi kids.”Wendy Sfier has hoped every night for her son’s safe return, and her tears are those of joy, not fear.



A 2005 Dawson County High School graduate, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Sfier will be home from his first tour in Iraq on Saturday morning.



“I cry every day. I can’t wait to see him,” Wendy Sfier said.



Joshua Sfier joined the Marines a few months after graduation. “He laid around on the couch about four months before he did it,” his mom said. “I was looking for adventure, wanting to try something new and get out and see the world,” Joshua

Sfier said late last week from his base in Hawaii. “I really wanted to see what it was like outside Dawsonville.”



Initially, neither Wendy Sfier nor her husband, Richie, were comfortable with their son joining the military. The thought of their son in Iraq was heartbreaking.



“I kept thinking, ‘What am I going to do without him,’” said Wendy Sfier. “I have a lot of health problems. I’ve had four brain tumors, and he always took care of me.”



As it turned out, taking care of his ailing mother was practice for a few of Joshua Sfier’s duties in Iraq. “We were there in support of the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police,” he said. “At first the police wouldn’t go out without us, but by the time we left they were prepped to handle things without us.”



The Marine will be home for nearly a month of rest before returning for a possible second tour early next year. He said it’s not the death and devastation he will carry with him the rest of his life, but the compassion he has for the children and people he met in Iraq.



“Helping those people. We know we’ve really made a difference. We brought order to these people. “Being able to walk those kids to school and home every day, so they weren’t attacked by insurgents, we were able to give them a chance.

That’s what I’ll keep with me,” he said.



A special hero’s welcome home celebration is planned for Saturday morning in downtown Dawsonville.



“Hero, that’s pushing it a little bit,” he said. “But it’s a honor. It feels pretty good to be called a hero.”



The Sfier family is expected to arrive at Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 about 10 a.m., when they will be met with a police escort to the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.



The community is invited to join in welcoming Joshua Sfier home. “We want everyone to put out yellow ribbons and flags and welcome him home along Hwy. 53 Saturday morning,” said Pam Hamalainen of the Dawson County Veterans Affairs Committee.



E-mail Michele Hester at