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Homecoming is a winner
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Louandrea Young (left) of Fieldale hugs her daughter, Lydia Tyree, who returned home from Afghanistan and surprised her at the Martinsville Mustangs game on Saturday night. Young last saw her daughter in September. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

By CHRIS PRIDE - Bulletin Staff Writer

Baseball fans waiting for the start of Saturday’s game at Hooker Field had something different to cheer about — a mother’s reunion with her daughter who had come home from Afghanistan.

The Gastonia Grizzlies were running about two hours behind for their scheduled Coastal Plain League baseball game against the Martinsville Mustangs at Hooker Field on Saturday evening. That delay gave the Mustangs a chance to arrange the very special reunion for Lydia Tyree and her mother, Louandrea Young.

Tyree hasn’t been on U.S. soil in nearly a year. She has been serving in the Army on a deployment to Afghanistan for the last 10 months. So when she approached her allotted service time and was making plans to return home, she said she wanted to surprise her mom.

Young originally was scheduled to sing the national anthem with other members of the Patriot Players theater group at Saturday’s game. With the rest of her family at the field, Tyree was kept hidden away during on-field pre-game festivities during the delay.

“I got here literally two hours (prior to the game) and talked to the people here, and they told me that they’d take care of it for us. They told us to come back at a certain time and hid us away in the stairwell. We went through like four different scenarios before we just had them announce me in for a surprise,” Tyree said.

Finally, Jesse Cole, president of the Mustangs management group, announced that Young’s daughter had come home from Afghanistan and was at the game.

Tyree ran from the stands onto the field and hugged her mother.

The look on Young’s face when Tyree surprised her was total shock, leaving the Fieldale native speechless.

“I’m just overwhelmed because I’ve been looking forward to seeing her so bad, missed her so much,” Young said. “I was expecting to see her tomorrow, so I guess she told a little fib to surprise me.”

She said it “feels like forever” since the two were together.

“We’re still able to communicate in other ways, which makes it a lot better, but it’s still nothing like this. I’m still shaking,” she said, taking a break from hugging her daughter.

Tyree said her deployment has been a humbling experience and one that taught her many lessons. While she said it was tough to leave some of the people she works with, she was just as anxious to be back in a place she knows well.

“I worked for the Afghan National Army, so I’m going to miss certain people, and there were some that didn’t want me to leave, but I had to,” she said. Back in the United States, “I took a shower without shower shoes on and brushed my teeth with sink water. It’s those things that you miss sometimes.”

Now that Tyree is home, she and her mother will catch up on some time spent apart — and mom’s home cooking.

“She told me to bake this potato cake when we were Skyping, and she told me it was what she wanted. It’s doing small things like that” that Young said she looks forward to.

Finally, around 9 p.m. when the baseball game was about to start, Young and the other Patriot Players members sang the national anthem.


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