Photo: Jessie Miles, a member of the 870th MP Company in Afghanistan, is scheduled to return home to Elburn by Christmas. Courtesy Photo
Elburn resident to return home for Christmas after first tour of duty in Afghanistan
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Marshall Miles said when his 22-year-old daughter Jessie comes home to Elburn in a few weeks, just in time for Christmas, there are no special plans.
“We’ll have a ‘Welcome Home Jessie’ party, but she just wants to be home and be with family,” he said.
Miles said his daughter, a 2008 Kaneland graduate, has been deployed in Afghanistan since last December. He’s been flying yellow ribbons for her since she left.
While he’s anxious for her to be home for Christmas, he said she is dealing with the loss of a close member of her combat unit. Sean Walsh, 21, of San Jose, Calif., was killed by a rocket shortly before the squad was to go on their last patrol.
“She’s heartbroken about that,” he said of Walsh’s death. “There are six people in a squad. He was her battle buddy. That’s the person that has your back.”
Miles said Jessie has seen a lot of combat, and has earned an active combat badge. Walsh was killed Nov. 18. The squad was to go on their last patrol Nov. 27.
“It’s a real tragedy; he was the only child and his mom was a single mom,” Miles said. “It’s really heart-wrenching.”
Jessie spent more than a year at Waubonsee Community College following high school graduation, then signed up for the National Guard. She moved to Hollister, Calif., and even worked on security for then-Governor Schwarzenegger. She was activated for duty last year.
He said it takes a while for the soldiers to actually make their way back home, and last he heard she was still in Baghran waiting to go back to Kuwait before heading stateside.
Miles said his daughter wants to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder on the G. I. Bill when she gets back home. He said she wants to learn to fly helicopters.
“She’s really a bright, talented girl,” he said. “She can do any job the Army has.”
When asked if he ever thought his daughter would become a soldier, he replied, “Never.”
“She’s been fearless,” he said. “She’s taken on every weapon. And she loves being on patrol, up on the truck.”