Soldier in 875th Gives Niece Away at Wedding

JONESBORO, AR -- Michael Smithson, a soldier with the 875th Engineer Battalion is home for a fifteen day leave to spend with his family.  On Friday he spent part of his time away from war celebrating; it was the wedding day of his niece, Amber Smithson-Mcclaughlin

"My niece is getting married and she wanted me to give her away.  I'm her uncle and I pretty much raised her all her life," said Smithson.

"I grew up without a father and he's always been there to take the place and do everything that they're supposed to do.  That's what I think of him as," said Amber Mcclaughlin.

Mcclaughlin has been looking forward to her uncle's return since he left and he is so important in her life her future has been hinged on his return.

"They planned around him coming home so he could give her away," said Derick Smithson.

"I was coming home this month on leave anyway so she pretty much planned her wedding around that," said Michael Smithson.

"I wouldn't have done it without him," said Mcclaughlin, "I waited on him to walk me down the aisle so he did!"

For Amber and her extended family this is a very happy day.  Even though they're glad to have their uncle home now, they look forward to the time when he doesn't have to say goodbye.

"He's off over there doing his thing and we kind of like having him here being in the family.  Family -- that's what it's all about," said Derick Smithson.

Michael Smithson goes back to Iraq on June 30th.

"Everybody's ready to come home.  I can't speak for everybody, but the one's I've spoke to they're ready to get it over with," said Smithson.

The soldiers in the 875th Engineer Battalion are scheduled to come home in September.