Soddy police officers give Chief hero's welcome home
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- From the Stars and Stripes waving in front of many businesses, to the marquee flashing 'Support the Troops' in front of the City Center, Soddy-Daisy always has made its patriotism fairly public.
Wednesday, it became a police matter.
"He's not gonna be happy," Lt. Jeff Gann says. "But that's our humble Chief."
Police Chief Phil Hamrick has returned from an 11-months' deployment in Kuwait. He's a Chief Petty Officer in the Naval Reserves. It's his second extended deployment in the past five and one-half years.
"You know, if this was any of the other officers here out of this department, he would be leading the whole parade," Lt. Gann says.
The parade put his family in a stretch limo, worthy of a rock star. Its motor escort featured at least a dozen of Soddy-Daisy's 28 sworn officers.
"This is all about honor," Lt. Gann says. "This is all about respect."
The full-flashers escort turns the 18-and-a-half mile trek from headquarters to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport into a non-stop, straight shot.
It paid off. Delta flight 3949 from Atlanta arrived eleven minutes early.
Allison Lee and her four-year-old son Thompson have never met the guest of honor. But that didn't stop them from pressing their noses to the terminal glass to watch the plane land.
"It's very exciting," Lee says. "I'd come to drop off my parents. They're going to Europe for two weeks, but I think we'll stay to watch this."
As they all watch the squad cars fill the tarmac, it's enough to take Hamrick himself aback.
He enters the terminal to thunderous applause, and more than a few hugs.
His daughter Tressie was six months shy of two years old when he left.
"She's about doubled in size," he says. "She's not talking much to me. She's got to get to know me again."
Job-wise,and otherwise, Kuwait was more than a world away.
"I worked in an Armory," he says."He handled a lot of navy weapons as they came in and out of theatre."
Even as he returns home, the family prepares to send his stepson, Kyle Odum, off to war.
"He's going through Army training," Hamrick says. "He started last week. His mother and I probably won't get to see him until the end of August."
For now, he man of few words wants to catch up, on his memories, and the meals one can find only in the Mid-South.
"What's the first thing I wanna eat? Krystals," says Hamrick.