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Veterans Day 2011: One new vet's service celebrated by family

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While Scott Gaines is spending his first Veterans Day in Iraq, his family and coworkers will be honoring his commitment to serving.

By Lisa King

In Iraq today, one of Shelby County’s native sons said he would spend his first Veterans Day doing what people who serve often do – missing his family.

 “I have a wonderful wife and a handsome little boy,” said Scott Gaines, 24, a firefighter with the Shelbyville Fire Department, husband of Angel Gaines, a firefighter with the Shelby County Fire Department and the father of a toddler, Braylon Scott Gaines.

Gaines enlisted in the Kentucky Army National Guard and completed his basic training at Ft. Benning, Ga., on July 31. He was deployed to Iraq in August with his infantry unit, Charlie Company 1-149.

Gaines, who corresponded with The Sentinel-Newsby E-mail, said he would be thinking today about his “papaw,” the late Larry E. Gaines, who served in Vietnam, and about all his family, and that the other people in his unit feel the same.

“The feeling for us here today is that we are doing a good thing for our country, but most of all, we are missing our families like crazy,” he said.

Angel Gaines said she was OK with her husband’s enlisting, because she was planning to do the same until she found out she was pregnant with their first child.

She said it is tough, though, that he will miss out on being at their son’s first birthday party on Nov. 29.

“Hopefully, he can Skype that day,” she said, adding that her husband has pretty much missed the child’s entire first year of life, what with being at basic training before being sent to Iraq.

“We are hopeful he can come home by the end of the year, but that is up in the air, because his orders aren’t up until May,” she said.

She described her husband as a fun-loving person who enjoys country music and going to mud runs and especially as someone who loves helping others “with no hesitation.”

“His son and I love him so much and can’t wait to finally be a family after such a long, difficult year,” she said.

Gaines’ father, Scott Gaines of Shelbyville, said that he and his wife, Sherry, are very proud of their son.

“We wish he was here, and we worry, but we are very proud of him and what he is doing,” he said.

Capt. Chris Spaulding of the Shelbyville Fire Department said his firefighters are very proud of Gaines, the only member of their department currently in active military service.

“He has been with us since April, 2006, and he’s a wonderful gentleman, and we are extremely proud of him,” Spaulding said. “We’re saving all of his equipment for when he comes back.”

Fire Chief Willard “Tiger” Tucker, echoed those sentiments.

“He keeps in touch with us, and plans to remain active as a firefighter when he gets back,” he said. “The thing about Scott, when he does something, he gives it his all, one hundred percent. His commitment to his family, his wife and his child, and to his country, is total.”

Although no community-wide events are planned today for Veterans Day, the day has not gone unobserved.

The Shelby County Extension Office held its annual ceremony last Sunday, Masonic Home Shelbyville is having a worship service on Sunday, and Jewish Hospital officials will have a small ceremony Monday when one of the hospital’s team members, Steve Peters, who recently returned from Afghanistan with his unit of the Kentucky National Guard, will be on hand to present a U.S. flag that was flown by American soldiers at a hospital in Iraq.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) addressed the Senate about Veterans Day:

“America remains a beacon of freedom throughout the world today because of the commitments and sacrifices they [military] have make. The efforts of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from Kentucky and all 50 states continue today, as our fighting forces courageously defend freedom from dangerous enemies around the world. On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to everyone who ever bore arms in service of this nation. We express our thanks and our gratitude to those who are still with us, and we must honor in our memories those who did not return home.”