Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Bittersweet homecoming

After nearly two years away, soldier returns home to empty barn

December 1, 2004

Home is supposed to be a welcome site for troops who have served in Iraq.

For Leslie Ward of rural Lansing, the return was bittersweet.

It certainly was heart-warming to be back home with his wife, Carol, just before the holidays. Ward, a member of the active reserves, left for Iraq in January 2003. Injured in Baghdad, Ward spent the last eight months recuperating at a base in Texas. He finally came home about two weeks ago. But when Ward, a part-time farmer, ventured to his equipment building on Nov. 16, he couldn't believe his eyes. A tractor and six other farm implements worth nearly $9,000 had been taken from his barn.

The 52-year-old Ward said the theft came as an absolute shock.

"I can't pinpoint the time of the loss, so that makes it even worse," Ward said.

The equipment wasn't insured, and Ward has no leads on suspects, either.

"The only thing I can do is slowly try to replace that stuff," said Ward, who also raises cattle. "But that's not going to happen overnight for me anyway."

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