CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – He has approval to come home. He just doesn't have a way. A local soldier's homecoming has hit a snag...all because of the volcanic ash that's grounding flights worldwide.
There is some good news for that Chesterfield soldier and thousands of other travelers. Airports throughout Europe are showing signs of life again, as the danger from Iceland's volcanic ash plume eases. In fact, Britain's government says airports in the U.K., including London's Heathrow airport, have now reopened.
That's news one Chesterfield family has been waiting to hear. Yellow ribbons are ready to greet soldier Alex Russell when he finally comes home. His mother Diane Sickinger is keeping busy by putting up welcome signs because she just can't wait any longer.
"I have no idea when he's coming home. How long it's going to be. What the travel's going to be like," said Diane.
But Diane is upset Mother Nature is pushing back the start of his leave from Iraq.
"Since he's been gone I've missed his 21st birthday. I'll miss his 25th birthday. And I've had one Christmas with him," she said.
Nearly two days ago, she got an update on Facebook.
"Saying that his flight was at 0200. So he had been waiting in Baghdad for about 18 hours for a flight to Kuwait," said Diane.
But there's been no word since.
"I know that he's supposed to be brought into Atlanta and then put on a plane up here. But I have no idea when," Diane said.
The good news: Diane says his two-week R and R doesn't start until he actually lands in the states.
"He's been giving a countdown. 30 days 'til leave. 21 days 'til leave. It got all the way down to one week- 7 whole days," she said.
All she can do is post a message online; crossing her fingers he sees it. As she reminisces about her son, Diane knows the only way she'll beat the waiting game is to stay busy. So her home is ready- ingredients for his favorite meal are on standby- just like the solider she can't wait to greet.
"I want my son home and I want to see him home safe. I want to be able to give him a hug," Diane said.
Diane says the USO has been helping soldiers who are stranded at airports and bases over-seas. Tonight, she's urging anyone who wants to help to log on to uso.org and make a donation.