Lt. Col. gets surprise welcome home

Above, Lt. Col. Tim Maples (center) sits in the back of a decorated convertible with his wife, Deanna and daughter, Alli at his neighborhood homecoming parade on Wednesday, July 16.Above, Lt. Col. Tim Maples (center) sits in the back of a decorated convertible with his wife, Deanna and daughter, Alli at his neighborhood homecoming parade on Wednesday, July 16.

By Lindsay Seagraves/News Editor

For the past 10 months, Lt. Col. Tim Maples has served the United States Army in Afghanistan as the Deputy Commander of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. His second deployment to Afghanistan, Maples returned to help close out an operation he worked on du-ring a previous year.

While Maples was focused on returning home to see his family on Wednesday, July 16, his neighborhood, Coosa Veranda in Hokes Bluff, was busy putting putting a homecoming parade in action. 

“Deanna [Maples’ wife] told us about two months out that he would be home sometime shortly after the 4th,” said Coosa Veranda resident Teresa Taylor. “We had been making flyers, sending private messages and posting signs around the neighborhood, because [Maples] had access to the internet so we couldn’t post anything on Facebook or he would find out. So we sent out the first flyer saying, ‘Keep your 4th of July decorations up for the homecoming of Lt. Col. Maples.”

Taylor said the neighborhood was then given the exact date and estimated time Maples would come home. 

“So we got the whole parade planned out; a deputy sheriff who lives in our neighborhood would escort him in from HWY 278,” Taylor explained, “We knew we would have about a five minute window to know when he would be coming into the [neighborhood] entrance. We planned a short ceremony, tea and finger foods. Everyone was just working together.”

Taylor said during the morning of the parade, Deanna called her to say they would be about two hours early coming home.

“It was also going to be a complete surprise to our daughter, Alli,” Deanna explained. “She was going to have to ask her daddy if we could stop for ice cream if we needed to stall, so I had to let her in on the secret the day of.”

“After Deanna called with the news that they would be early, neighbors were calling neighbors; people were running around getting huge ribbons out; decorating golf carts and cars,” Taylor said. 

“We were all rushing home to be able to get the neighborhood ready for his homecoming.”

“As soon as we turned onto Caddell [Street], Tony Snow, who is a volunteer deputy sheriff, pulled out in front of us and put his car lights on and stopped and said follow me; so I knew something was up,” said Maples. “He ran his siren and lights all the way down Caddell, so when we turned in I saw the whole neighborhood with everything decorated up and it was just really nice. Very much a surprise; I didn’t know any of that was going to happen.”

Maples said when we got into Coosa Veranda, Taylor’s husband, Tim Taylor, asked them to get into a decorated convertible. 

“It was me, my wife and our daughter, Ally, and it was really nice that they would make us feel so special like that.”

“We both just feel very grateful,” added Deanna.

Neighbors lined their driveways with banners, liberty hats, streamers and ribbons. After the Maples’ went around the neighborhood’s one-mile circle, they stopped at the home of James and Jessie Hanks, where refreshments were served. 

“Lilly Hanks sang God Bless America and they had a bunch of finger foods, then they all said thanks and welcome home so that’s when I told them it was just very special – my dad was there, my sister and nieces and nephews and my step daughter,” Maples said. “I don’t do very well in the spotlight, I like for it to be other people, you know.”

Maples said after the short ceremony, his daughter was so excited she made a beeline for him. 

“She ran and jumped in my arms and said, ‘Daddy, I missed you so much, it’s so good to see you,’ and we hugged for about ten minutes,” he said. “I’m jus thankful that we live in such a great neighborhood that we share in the good times and we mourn together in the bad times.”

Maples is still on orders after his leave, serving a total deployment time of one year. 

The 82nd Sustainment Brigade he serves in is an active duty based in Fort Bragg, N.C. They are the best-trained sustainment brigade in the U.S. Army

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