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Dundee celebrates hero’s homecoming with procession   ADVERTISEMENT

Dundee celebrates hero’s homecoming with procession

DUNDEE—Army Staff Sergeant Richard Conklin returned home to Dundee the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 15 with a hero’s welcome. Conklin was welcomed back home with an escort that included a Dundee fire truck, Yates County Sheriff’s cruiser and New York State Trooper’s vehicle, along with walking flag bearers belonging to the Western New York Warriors Watch Riders. The procession led him from the Dundee Central School down Main Street to 39 Bigelow Ave.
“I was surprised,” Conklin said. “I had about a two and a half hour drive from Fort Drum and I pulled up and saw a police car on the side of the road and I thought maybe there was an accident. I wasn’t sure what was going on until I saw some familiar faces. It was a shock.”
Conklin was returning from his fourth deployment overseas since 2002. He left a wife and two children at home as he served his country in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. He returned to the United States Jan. 10, 2014, to Fort Drum and had not seen his parents since returning from service. Conklin’s family wanted to welcome their son back properly with a hero’s precession through the village streets.
Conklin said his latest tour was his fourth time being deployed overseas, adding he was gone for a nine-month deployment. He said the first thing he did while back was to “let his hair down” and enjoy some good, quality family time with his wife and kids.
“It is great to be home,” Conklin said. “It was only a nine month tour, but it still takes a toll on family members. It is great to be back home with the wife and kids and the community as a whole.”
“It is great to have him back after nine months,” Richard’s wife Dianna said. “It was hard to keep in contact with him. Some days I couldn’t hear from him because the phones were down and that’s when I would get anxious. Now that he’s home, we are finally able to have our family as a whole again.”
The escort was organized by the Western New York Warriors Watch Riders and was aided by the Dundee Fire Department, Yates County Sheriff’s Department and New York State Troopers. Conklin had no knowledge of the parade plans and was instantly greeted with the reception as he pulled into the village. Dianna said she was excited to see how he would react and was glad the village was able to organize the escort for her husband.
Richard Conklin said he is currently 12 years into his service and still has eight more to go. He said once he is home for good, he plans to take a few months to relax before getting a second job. He said he is working on getting his associate’s degree to become a high school guidance counsellor. Conklin said he will continue to work on his degree.



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