In welcoming home Army officer, his family displays excitement for everyone to see

6-foot homecoming sign marks the return of Manchester major

July 03, 2005|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After nearly a year serving with the U.S. Army's Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, Maj. Edwin Singer III of Manchester returned this weekend to his family, fireworks and the most conspicuous "welcome home" sign his father could muster.

Standing at one of Carroll County's busiest intersections, the 6-foot card reads, "Welcome home, Major Eddie Singer" in bold letters.

The senior Singer, also named Ed, had permission from the State Highway Administration to erect the display on a grassy patch at Routes 26 and 32 in Eldersburg.

"He has called several times to change the location and the wording," said Paige Smith, co-owner of Card in the Yard business. "He wanted it where many would see it."

The red, white and blue creation, surrounded by flags and 50 wooden stars, will stand for a week, where thousands of cars pass daily. To make the display even more eye-catching, the youngest Singers, Natalie and Eddie IV, poked patriotically colored pinwheels into the ground.

"This is really cool, and everybody will know my daddy is coming home," said Natalie, 8, who has throughout the year told her father "to get on a plane home right now."

The major, who expected to land at Fort Bragg, N.C., early yesterday, should spot the display from the family van on his return to Carroll County, said his wife, Michelle, who teaches nearby at Liberty High School.

"He will be excited to see this," she said.

Edwin Singer, director of the Carroll County Health Department's environmental health division and an officer in the Army Reserve, was based in Kandahar province near the Pakistan border. His team drilled community wells, built sanitation systems and restored infrastructure, all projects that he has undertaken in his civilian job. He described the effort as "whatever we need to do to support the people," in e-mails to his family.

As soon as the sign was steadied Friday, the Singers - parents, wife, sister and children of the major - headed down Interstate 95 to the air base at Fort Bragg, where President Bush spoke Tuesday.

"It's a shame Bush could not have waited a few more days for his speech," said the eldest Singer, a former Marine. "This would have been a great photo op for him."

Once home, the major will meet the newest family member, a doodle puppy named Ginger. Eddie IV, 10, said he has been telling the pup "you are going to meet my daddy soon."

"First, I am gonna hug him," said son, Eddie. "Then, I will play whatever game he wants."

Natalie plans a bit more active reunion. "He is getting on the trampoline with me," she said.

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