HEIDELBERG (KDKA) — Sgt. John Howe had a treat in store for Three Hierarchs Eastern Orthodox School in Heidelberg.

He and family members entered the building Wednesday with mementoes from his service with the 316th Army Reserves in Kuwait.

Sgt. Howe says he has a warm spot for the school attended by his sons.

“The school’s just been so supportive of me and my family,” he explains. “They sent a care package that arrived on Christmas Eve, which was great. I just wanted to do something special for the school.”

Students cried out “Welcome home!” in unison as he entered the gymnasium.

He was quick to reciprocate their enthusiastic welcome.

“What I wanted to do to thank you all is fly a flag over Camp Arifjan in Kuwait,” he announces.

Now that flag has come home, encased in glass.

It won’t replace the Stars and Stripes flying high above the school. The flag that flew over Kuwait will be placed, along with photographs, on permanent display.

With three sons, including one with special needs, Sgt. Howe feels his wife, Paula, was the real hero during his deployment.

“I had a mission,” he says. “I knew what I was doing at all times. And I knew that I was safe. They were here, worrying.”

He was training in Texas when his son, Ivan, graduated from eighth grade.

“So he was going to miss the graduation,” Paula Howe recalls. “But with some of the teachers’ help, and some of the ‘teckie’ husbands of teachers and everything, they set up Skype. And they had a table set up, so he was here for the whole graduation.”

Young admirers waited in line to check out the photos and try on the helmet worn by a soldier who has brought his story home.

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