You can come home again

Published 12:33 am Thursday, September 2, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The double-sided sign in the front lawn of Ruth Hayfer's Niles home reads "Welcome Home Adam!!!" on one side and "He's Home!!!" on the other.
Adam, her son, just returned home from a 10 month tour of duty in Afghanistan where he was a Specialist with the United States Army 501st Airborne Infantry division.
Adam, 22,. enlisted in the army in October of 2001, just weeks after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
Adam's unit arrived in Afghanistan on Oct. 29, 2003 to replace the 10th Mountain Infantry division. The 10th Mountain stayed for a few weeks to show Adam's division the ins and outs of being stationed in Afghanistan.
The unit also had to learn to adjust to operating in extreme conditions like 130 degree days in the summer, and being 5,000 ft. above sea-level. Because they were in the mountains, Adam said they also saw snow in the winter.
The 501st Airborne was stationed eight miles from the Afghan border with Pakistan, where the unit's primary duty was to stop Al-Qaida and Taliban forces from crossing the border into Pakistan.
Encounters with enemy forces consisted mostly of ambushes on the unit while passing through towns. The unit would make "village assessments," determining if the Taliban or Al-Qaida held a strong presence in towns near the border.
The enemy forces were quite skilled when making the devices, which usually consisted of an old explosive shell attached to a trip-wire as a trigger, Adam said.
A cell-phone trigger would be activated when an enemy soldier called the cellular phone attached to the explosive device, causing it to explode, according to Adam.
Although it was rare, some confrontations with enemy forces would escalate into fire fights.
While Adam couldn't give specifics about it, when the unit did take prisoners after confrontations with the enemy, Adam said "they were pretty high value people."
Despite being in a "hot spot" where most of the action in Afghanistan took place, the 501st Airborne didn't lose a single soldier during the tour of duty.
In addition to guarding the Afghan-Pakistani border, the 501st Airborne did many other things, like help train the local army, the Afghan Militia Force.
Although Adam saw the country make great progress in the 10 months he was stationed there, he thinks that the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is far from over.
While stationed half a world away from home, Adam met Specialist Bob Lincolns from Maryland.
When not on duty, Adam and Lincolns hung out and talked about mutual interests like trucks and hunting.
Now that her son is home, Ruth can finally be at ease.
Ruth found help adjusting to becoming an "army mom" in Bluestar Mothers, a Berrien County support group for mothers of servicemen in the U.S. armed forces.
Ruth couldn't be more proud of Adam now.
Also glad to have Adam home are his father Al and Adam's brothers Chris, 28, and Nicholas, 8.