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East County Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 8 years ago

Home for the holidays

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

RIVER CLUB — Braden River Elementary father and Air Force Capt. Thomas Albrecht isn’t one for fanfare.

Humble by nature, Albrecht plays down his multiple tours overseas, including his most recent monthlong stint as a battle captain in Qatar. He shrugs when describing his work, which involves transmitting documents to and from entities such as the Pentagon.

“It’s making sure the information is getting to the right people and making sure it looks right,” said Albrecht, who returned home to his family — wife Tia, and sons Cory, 9, Evan, 6, and Nathan, 2 — Nov. 14. “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig.”

So, when Braden River Principal Randy Mungillo told Albrecht of his plan for a special “Father’s Welcome Home” event, Albrecht responded in the only way he knew how: Deflect the attention right back to the school.

During the event Nov. 24, students gave Albrecht a patriotic welcome complete with American flags, music and handmade cards to the troops.

Then, Albrecht presented Braden River with a special flag and certificate in recognition of the school’s continued support of U.S. troops stationed overseas. Most recently, the school raised more than 1,200 pounds of candy to be distributed to the troops and children in Iraq during its “Give a Hoot, Donate Your Loot” campaign.

“We fly a special flag in honor of the people who support us,” Albrecht said. “This particular flag came off a B1 bomber, and the crew signed the certificate.

“A lot of times, students will write letters or send cards (to troops) and never know the outcome,” he said. “We want them to know how much we appreciate them.”

Mungillo said the flag will be placed in a special display box for students and families to see.

The school also presented Albrecht with a gift from the Grateful American Coin, a non-profit organization that sells commemorative coins for each military branch to raise money to support injured soldiers.

Raised on a farm in upstate New York, Albrecht signed up for the military after the family business started to decline.

“I signed up at age 17 and have been loving it ever since,” he said.

Originally trained in aircraft maintenance, Albrecht spent his early years flying and working on C-5 planes.
This Thanksgiving, Albrecht is grateful to spend the holiday with his friends and family. He will remain in the country through the holiday season but expects another tour overseas in 2010.

“Tia really doesn’t want to know much as long as I’m safe,” Albrecht said. “I’ll be back over there sometime next year — it’s inevitable.

“With modern technology, it’s not so bad,” he said of being away. “They have Skype (an Internet communications service) set up, and we love it.

“I’m usually the bad cop in the family, so when I’m gone, sometimes the boys run all over mom,” he said. “With Skype, I can be on there telling them to do their homework.”

Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].

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