After a nine-month tour in Afghanistan, Cale McDowell is happy to embrace everything Canadian.
“Being able to go walk outside, being able to drive a car by yourself, being able to not carry a gun on you, to relax – that was the big thing I missed was the freedom here,” McDowell said Wednesday after arriving at the Thunder Bay International Airport to a large group of family, friends and other supporters, including Mayor Keith Hobbs and members of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
Finally coming home felt like a dream for McDowell, who served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry based out of Edmonton.
“When you first get off the plane, you start to get the shakes and then walk up and it doesn’t even feel real after so long you can come back and see your family,” he said.
McDowell’s parents, Darlene and Larry, both teared up as they waited for their son to come out of the arrival gate.
After nine months of waiting for her son to come home, Darlene said they are thrilled to know he’s home safe and sound.
No matter what job a soldier has in Afghanistan, they are in harm’s way and she was happy to hug her son, joking that he wouldn’t be allowed out of the house for the next two months.
“We’ve got 900 of our Canadians there in harm’s way every day,” she said.
“There are 900 other families across this country right now hoping to go through what we just had.”
“We’ll pray for them and hopefully they get as good an outcome as we’ve been blessed with,” she added.
The family’s plan for the rest of the evening was to go home and enjoy some of Darlene’s homemade McDowell’s famous sauce.
“All his friends are coming over and we’re going to relax and sit around the table and just hug him and enjoy him and enjoy family,” she said.
McDowell is set to retire from the military and plans to become a police officer.