Ricky Stewart Volunteers
Ricky James Stewart leaves for the first leg of his journey to Iraq May 9, the Wednesday before Mother's Day.
A Cavalry Scout with the Tennessee National Guard, Ricky is the 18 year old son of Mary Gribbins. He is a Macon County High School graduate, a student at Vol State, and Ricky is volunteering for deployment to Iraq.
Because Ricky's Tennessee unit has not been deployed, he will transfer to a New Mexico National Guard unit, according to Sergeant James Raines, a National Guard Recruiting Officer.
“When Ricky came back from basic, he worked with me for six or eight months in recruiting. He was able to handle work and school with no problems; and he talked then about going to Iraq,” Sergeant Rains explained.
Ricky insists he wishes his family wouldn't make a big deal about his decision to volunteer for Iraq; but the proud family members, friends, and acquaintances who speak so highly of Ricky Stewart are showing no signs of honoring the young soldier's wishes.
“It's hard to put into words just how good a kid Ricky is. Volunteering to do what he's doing goes to show how much integrity he has,” MCHS Band Director Shawn Mitterholzer explained.
“I raised my son, but this community raised him too,” Ricky's mother Mary Gribbins explained. “We moved here from Nashville when Ricky was in the second grade and the schools here had such a positive influence on him; everyone can be proud of Ricky,” she added.
“This is bitter sweet,” the proud mom continued. “I'm so proud of him; but my heart breaks in half. I'm glad he has God to lean on.”
Nicki Napier is well into her forth year of service with the Tennessee National Guard.
Just a week before Mother's Day this year, Nicki will be leaving behind a precious bundle when she puts on the uniform and convoys to Mississippi for annual training.
Eight month old Karlie giggles, coos and flails her arms, completely unaware that in a few days mommy will be keeping log books, managing supplies, and dispatching military vehicles, instead of changing diapers.
Nicki's husband Dustin Napier will serve as “Mr. Mom”, with help from his mother Juanita, while Nicki is away.
”My boss is going to work with me, so I don't have to be away overnight while Nicki is gone,” Karlie's dad explained.
“It's gonna be hard. This will be my first time away from her. She's used to mama being here,” Nicki lamented.
A graduate of Hermitage Springs High School, Nicki joined the National Guard when she was 16.
“I like being in the National Guard. I enjoy doing it; and I wanted the education benefits,” the young mother and soldier explained.
Nicki is enrolled at Stylemasters, in Lebanon. and she plans to finish her program in September.
She has not been deployed to Iraq yet, but Nicki is prepared to go if her unit is called.
“I have six years active duty and two years of inactive ready reserve. If we're called, I'll go,” Nicki explained.
This Mother's Day, mothers on the home front will wait and pray for the safe return of their sons and daughters from far away posts. Children wait and pray too, when mom is the one wearing the uniform.