Welcome home solider

Brandon Twp. — For his 13th birthday, Shelby Travis didn’t mind sharing the spotlight with his big brother Byron. Spc. Byron Travis had just come home from serving in the United States Army.
“I’m pretty excited ‘cause he’s home for good,” said Shelby.
Decked out in shades of red, white, and blue, the Travis home was packed with friends and family last weekend as Kevin Travis shuttled his son home from the airport. Kendra Saunders, 19, and Sarah Davis, 20, who haven’t seen Byron since they attended Brandon High School together, were among the many anxious to see him.
“Welcome home Byron” read a hand-lettered banner stretched across the entry. With miniature American flags in hand, the welcoming party greeting Byron with hugs.
Terri Banks, whose son Josh is still in the service, embraced the young soldier.
“Byron got Josh signed up, and Josh is still in Iraq,” she said. “It’s kind of emotional. I’m happy he’s home, I’m kind of imagining he’s my son.”
A table filled with newspapers highlighting the troop’s undertakings covered the dining table; downstairs a table laden with a large decorated cake and party fare waited. Video coverage of Byron and other parachuters played on the television.
Vietnam veteran Lee Stewart, of Ortonville congratulated the Travis family on Byron’s welcome.
“This is the way to do it—not like the reception we got when we came back from Vietnam,” he said.
“It feels funny not to be a soldier anymore,” Byron told his dad.
“I’m glad to have him home to pick on, to be with, to do projects with. He left a fresh-faced kid, now…” said Kevin, turning to look at Byron, “now he might be able to take me in arm wrestling.”
Kevin’s face grew more serious.
“We saw another guy at the airport in desert fatigues, home for R and R, who was probably going back. I feel proud, and relieved, but I’m always aware of the guys who are still there,” he said.
Now that Byron is home for good, Shelby is looking forward to lots of time playing Nintendo together.
“I don’t have to worry about him being over in Iraq, I don’t have to worry about him being shot,” said Shelby, “so this is a pretty cool birthday present.”