A Fleetwood Army Specialist returned home from deployment, greeted by “Welcome Home Spc. Cyrus McDonough” posted on the Fleetwood digital sign last week.
Specialist Cyrus McDonough, 21, Fleetwood, returned home with U.S. Army 333rd Engineering Company March 11 after nearly a year deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The sign surprised me,” said Cyrus, who was shocked that the message was funded by an anonymous donor.
“When Mrs. (Kelsey) McDonough sent in the request for a sign to welcome home her husband, we were thrilled to have the sign be part of his homecoming celebration,” said Chris Young, Fleetwood Borough Council and Recreation Board. “An anonymous donor paid for the sign, and we scheduled to display it on the first day he was back in town.”
The Welcome Home message was posted on the digital community bulletin board at Fleetwood Park, which was installed by Fleetwood Rec Board in fall 2013 and is funded by an annual donation from the Fleetwood Breakfast Brothers and the remaining loan paid for by selling messages on the sign, according to Young. Anyone wishing to schedule a message visit www.fleetwoodboro.com.
Cyrus is a native of Reading and now resides in Fleetwood with his wife Kelsey, 21, a native of Fleetwood.
“Everyone here is friendly,” said Cyrus about Fleetwood. “It’s the ideal situation to live here.”
“There’s a sense of community,” said Kelsey. “Every time you need help or something comes up, everyone’s always there and has your back.”
While putting a sign up in their yard announcing his return, Kelsey said people in their neighborhood stopped and thanked Cyrus for his service.
“Thank you to everyone,” said Cyrus. “We appreciate your support, myself and my entire company. What you’ve done for us, between care packages, snacks, goodies, anything, it all helps boost morale. Keep supporting your troops. We love you.”
According to State Sen. Judy Schwank, the unit was escorted from Harrisburg to Cumru Township by local police, fire and motorcycle enthusiasts. Schwank encouraged everyone “to greet our hometown heroes (more than 140 members from the Reading area) and let them know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and service.” The 333rd conducted horizontal construction operations that included road work, leveling operations, finish grade for roads and airfields, and surface and drainage maintenance, according to Schwank’s release.
“Friends, family, a lot of support from the community. It was pretty much an awesome experience,” said Cyrus about his welcome home to the unit’s headquarters in Cumru Township on March 11. He felt overwhelmed by his return home. “It didn’t feel real.” But after a few days home, he felt like he was “getting used to what it’s like to actually be home.”
“The big moment for me was probably the buses pulling in and seeing everybody there and all the signs for everyone, and, of course, my wife running up to me and giving me a busted lip in her excitement,” Cyrus said with a smile.
Kelsey feels really relieved to have him home. “It’s like the weight of the world came off my shoulders when I heard that he was back in the states.”
When asked how his deployment affected her, Kelsey said, “It’s made me a lot stronger and I think it’s made our relationship a lot stronger. We’ve learned to be really patient with each other and to communicate better because we used an App to talk and all we could do was type to each other... it helped us with communication skills, being able to cooperate with each other and have patience.”
Cyrus enlisted in the Army Reserve his senior year at Reading High School. Upon graduation in 2011 he completed Basic Combat Training. He then returned home Dec. 15, 2011 and proposed to his wife. A year later they were married Dec. 15, 2012. His unit was deployed from Reading on April 13, 2013 and “hit boots on the ground June 6” and left Afghanistan Feb. 26, 2014.
Cyrus hopes to return to his criminal justice studies at Kutztown University, which he started prior to deployment in fall 2012. Kelsey is an undeclared student at KU but also has aspirations to study criminal justice and has interests in psychology with the goal of helping people.
His primary goals is to become a juvenile probation officer and help youth. He feels he did not really have a role model growing up to show him the way and feels that’s something that would be good to become, “work with inner city kids, that had a troubled past and try to turn them around, and hopefully lead them onto a better path.”
The Kutztown Area Patriot would like to feature others returning home from deployment, particularly those residing in the Kutztown, Lenhartsville and Hamburg areas. Please contact editor Lisa Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.