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A mom's hero comes home

August 29, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - Nineteen-year-old Pfc. Brad Trail doesn't like to be called a hero, but when his mother saw him for the first time in six months, she couldn't help calling him one.

"He said, 'Mom, I'm not a hero. I'm doing my job,'" Brenda Trail recalled.

"That's how these guys and these boys feel; they don't feel like they're heroes at all," she said.

The 2006 North Hagerstown High School graduate, who is home on leave from his service in Iraq as a combat engineer for the U.S. Army, takes enough pride in his job that one of his first errands after arriving home was to get "SOLDIER" tattooed on his arm.

Brenda Trail sports a similar tattoo: "SOLDIER'S MOM." And that's a job she takes seriously, too.

"I just have to support my son," she said. "He's protecting me, and he's protecting us."

Every other week, she sends him a care package with items like baby wipes, Q-tips, beef jerky, Pringles, calling cards, toothpaste, deodorant and soap.

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For his 19th birthday May 18, she sent him a laptop so they could send instant messages to each other.

But nothing compares to seeing him in person, she said. She and her mother went to pick him up from the airport Thursday when he flew in from Atlanta.

"They came around the corner, and ... oh, that was the best thing to see in my life," Brenda Trail said.

It's been a whirlwind of a year for mother and son, with Brad Trail being sworn in as a soldier Sept. 11, completing training in Missouri and Colorado, and serving in Iraq since early March.

"It's been rough on me, to see my only son go to Iraq, but I don't really like to let him know that," Brenda Trail said.

Since being home, Brad has been catching up with friends, visiting his mentor from high school and enjoying his mother's home cooking - though the first meal he wanted after arriving home was from McDonald's, his mother said.

Brenda Trail said she's noticed he seems more mature since he's returned - more positive and structured.

"He's a man," she said. "He's not the boy who left here in September."

Brad doesn't talk about his time in Iraq, other than to comment on the heat. He declined to be interviewed for the paper, though he consented to a photo.

"He doesn't like recognition," Brenda Trail explained. "But he deserves it. At 19 years old, to go through what he's been through - he's my hero."

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