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Soldier comes home to grateful community

Everyone knew that Kathleen McAllister-Morgan was back in town.

From the day the Navy lieutenant commander came back to Suffolk recently, after months in Kuwait, both her friends at the Suffolk YMCA and her co-workers at the Health Department proclaimed “Welcome Home, Kathleen” on their signs.

But knowing that she was home wasn’t quite enough.

On Sunday afternoon, Oct, 6, more than 100 of her friends and family decided to throw a special welcome at the Planter’s Club.

“This is a big thing,” said YMCA Executive Director Rick Matthews, hoisting a huge plate of ribs. “Kathleen’s not only a great soldier, a great wife and a great friend, but she’s the whole package. She’s a great member of the YMCA family.”

McAllister-Morgan’s husband K.E. and her friend Katie Humphrey put the event together.

“It was (K.E.’s) idea, and we all added to it,” Humphrey said. “Anybody that goes away for a year and serves our country deserves a party. Kathleen’s so optimistic and encouraging, and we wanted to give it back to her.”

Suffolk City Councilman Calvin Jones was one of those in the crowd.

“I worked with her for years (at the health department),” he said. “This was an opportunity to come out and say thanks for what she’d done. She’s done things that not many people have done, and she’s admirable for her commitment.”

Morgan, an emergency planner for the Western Tidewater Health District, finished one six-month stint overseas in April, only to go back in May, and spent her 50th birthday in Kuwait. The crowd gifted her with a belated rendition of ‘Happy Birthday.”

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m just so glad. It’s like having my whole family around. There are people I’ve known forever, and people I’ve just met. There’s a lot of love here.”

This time, she has a little longer to enjoy it; she won’t be going back until January.

“She’s going into a new unit,” K.E. said. “We know she’s going; we don’t know where or exactly when, but we know she’s ready. Thank goodness she’s got so many friends.”