WESTMINSTER — Among Ella Upperman's birthday gifts at Friendly Farm on April 6 wasone that money couldn't buy.
Her son, Douglas, had returned afterserving with military intelligence for seven months in the Persian Gulf.
The fifth of Ella and Jimmy Upperman's six children, Doug, 29, surprised his mother at the party that had been planned for weeks.
However, surprise homecomings aren't unusual for the staff sergeant, who has been in the Army for 10 years.
This last visit, the first in two years to his home in Gaither, was rather short because Doug wasreturning to his base in California to get married.
Doug said he doesn't normally call to announce his visits because family members, most of whom live near his parents, are disappointed when he suddenlycan't come home.
He returned to the West Coast on Tuesday.
CHRISTMAS IN APRIL
Four months after the fact, Army Spec. Ted Grzymala Jr. finally had Christmas dinner with his family.
But late is better than never.
Grzymala, a member of the 27th Engineering Battalion, just returned from serving in Saudi Arabia during the gulf war.
After missing a family Christmas for the first time, his grandmother -- Maria T. Friedenwald -- promised him one with all the trimmings when he got home.
The 23-year-old, who was deployed from Fort Bragg, N.C. on Aug. 21, worked with the generators the Army uses for power in temporary camps.
He and the others in his unit would drive tractor trailers filled with equipment in and out of Iraq.
Soon after the ground war, though, he also transported Iraqiprisoners of war back into Saudi Arabia.
Although his unit didn'tsee any action, there were still casualties in his unit, Grzymala said.
In December, one died in an accident and a bomb blast later killed six others.
While he is happy to be home with his family, theson of Jackie and Ted Grzymala said he will never forget the servicemembers that were lost in the war.
AIRMAN SERVES IN TURKEY
Airman 1st Class Clinton C. Porter returned home March 26, after serving for 27 months at Incirlik, Turkey during the Persian Gulf war.
Porter, the 20-year-old son of Barbara and Robert Porter, is a supply specialist with the U.S. Air Force.
The 1988 graduate of Francis Scott Key joined the service right after graduation.
He will report to Loring, Maine, after his 30-day leave.
CAPTION: CLINTON C. PORTER
Served for 27 months in Turkey
BLANKETS SHIPPED TO GULF
DATELINE: NEW WINDSOR
The New Windsor Service Center shipped five trailer-loads of blankets to aid refugees flooding Turkey from Iraq.
The 45-foot trailers contained 1,128 bales of blankets. They were loaded Thursday onto a transport plane at Andrews Air Force Base, Montgomery County, and scheduled for arrival in Turkey Friday.
Terri Meushaw, spokeswoman for the center, said the blankets were donated by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Church World Service.
WAR IN THE GULF