Midlands families counting down to soldiers' homecoming

SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - For people with loved ones serving with the 218th Enhanced Separate Brigade - that homecoming could not come soon enough. That's especially true for people with relatives whose humvee was hit by a bomb in Afghanistan earlier this month.

Only on WIS News 10 Monday, we showed you pictures of the damage. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Many more Midlands families have loved ones deployed who were not in that attack, though. But they still could not be more excited to have their soldiers back home.

The coffee talk in Sumter is about Debra Gibbs' son. "He's just always been patriotic."

Lieutenant Tyler Gibbs, 24, is stationed in Afghanistan with the 218th.

"If it weren't for God, I don't think I would have gotten through it," says Debra.

Mother and son are close. WIS News 10's Jennifer Wilson met them when Tyler was coming home for a rest right before the 218th went overseas.

"I'm so proud of him, and he is so dedicated - loves his country and he has made me a stronger person," Debra says.

But her pride turned to fear when three members of the 218th from South Carolina lost their lives on the mission. "They were from the area he was in ... He knew the person," she says. "And he actually helped pack their belongings. It's the first time I've seen him really emotional."

That's when she leaned on her friends in her coffee group. "We talk about Tyler - ask how he is, says her friend, Jeanette Harrison. "We send him cards and emails."

And they tried to stay positive. "What I hear on the news is always so bad. I can only go by what he tells me," Debra says. "And what he tells me is they're making a difference."

But she can't wait for him to get home "I am so excited. I"ll say, 'Have you started the countdown?' He'll say, 'Yes I have.'"

It's a countdown to Tyler coming home a hero.

The 1,600 South Carolina soldiers in the 218th will begin returning home within the next several weeks.

Reported by Jennifer Wilson

Posted by Chantelle Janelle