Lakota grandmothers credited for safety of Iraqi bomb hunter
took more than a year to get here, but for the next 18 days Army
Spec. Chris Condon, 5th Engineers Battalion, 87th Engineers Company,
will savor the sights and sounds of being home in South Dakota.
hes here, Condon wants to visit his 8-year-old son, see all
of the grandmothers in his extended and expansive Lakota family,
and finally eat all of the foods he has missed since joining the
service in 2004.
reason why hes here is because his grandmothers pray for him
every day, said his mother, Geraldine Condon.
support is not lost on the Red Scaffold woman. Her 29-year-old son
deals with explosives every day as part of his job in a war zone.
Chris and the 21 Bravo Combat Engineers are entrusted to find car
bombs and the hidden caches in houses in their sector.
like my job, he said.
and Harold Condon arrived in Rapid City late Monday afternoon after
digging out their snow drifted yard and driving several hours from
the Red Scaffold village in Ziebach County. They brought a welcoming
party of Condons aunts Stephanie Charging Eagle and Valorie
Charging Eagle, cousins Stevanna, Steve and Wetu and sister Kara
and her daughter with nephew Kamrom.
is the short list. We expect more at a dinner at Eagle Butte,
his mother said.
her knowledge, he is Red Scaffolds only current soldier serving
been anxiously waiting for Condon, who said he decided to take his
leave later in his deployment rather than at the beginning of his
service. It was worth the wait, he said.
a Red Scaffold native of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, began his
homeward journey April 5 from Kuwait, arriving at the airport near
Berlin, Germany, about 14 hours later. There, he and about 200 other
soldiers boarded a transport plane for an overnight trans-Atlantic
flight to Dallas, Texas.
we got into Dallas, those 200 soldiers scattered all over the airport
looking for flights home, Condon said.
standby status, Condon asked for the first flight to Denver that
would send him on to Rapid City. The clerk made his ticket a prioritysomething
another passenger took exception to and complained about to a superior.
told him that she was going to make sure that I got home,
Condon recalled. It was a small courtesy that touched him, one of
many kind gestures that he appreciated once on American soil and
as he drew closer to home.
the trip he worried about the weather, watching daily updates on
the snowstorms and flooding in the region.
seeing so much snow in April still surprised him.
now its sandstorm season over there, he said.
to see their son at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, the family had sat
down at a Rapid City restaurant for dinner when Chris called at
4:30. He was homesix hours early. We paid the check
and took off for the airport, Geraldine Condon said.
Condon was one of the first relatives to arrive at the airport after
were so anxious to see him, she said.
had brought along her daughter and their nephew Kamron.
little boy had been counting the days until Chris got home. Kara
pointed out the tall man in the camouflage clothing to Kamron, who
replied with a whispered Holy.
next thing she knew, she was hugging her brother.
was unbelievable, she said. Hes finally here.
a child and teenager, Condon traveled throughout the United States
and Europe as his family competed in Native American drumming, singing
and dancing. As many as three generations would camp and dance together
over the summer months.
also excelled in school academics and athletics, winning the same
scholarships that his big brother Kerwin had earned years earlier.
made sure that they traveled and were educated, his father,
Harold Condon, said.
Condon decided to enlist in the military after Kerwin became seriously
ill. Kerwin had developed cancer as a child. While it was in remission
for years, the eldest son was ineligible to serve in the military.
always wanted to be in the military so I did it for him, Condon
died three years ago. In February, Condon re-enlisted for another
lot of people said I was crazy, but I like what I do, he said.
this leave, Condon will return to Iraq. He will come back in July
for a short leave before his unit will move on to Afghanistan. After
finishing his overseas tour, Condon will return to Fort Hood, Texas,
to finish his service.
see when this next six years are up, he said.
Jomay Steen at 394-8418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.