Proud papa Patrick Wooten headed to Camp Shelby outside Hattiesburg today to complete his training. Wooten, an attorney who will be the command judge advocate and adviser to a one-star general, ships out to Afghanistan on Feb. 7 with the rest of the 168th National Guard engineering brigade based out of Vicksburg.
The coming months will be bittersweet for both Patrick and his wife Jennifer. The happiness of a new baby in the house, offset by the thousands of miles of distance separating Wooten from his family, which also includes 3-year-old daughter Evelyn and 13-year-old son Jacob.
“A little joy is being taken away,” Jennifer said last week, two days before before Rosemary Lillian was born weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces and measuring 19.75 inches. “I can’t image how hard it will be for him not to be here for all her firsts.
“But we know God has a plan for our lives. We accept this is part of it.”
To salute Wooten’s service to his country, especially at such an important time in his family’s life, his Ashton Park neighbors decorated his yard and the entrance to the Madison subdivision Sunday when he brought Jennifer and Rosemary home. Wooten was able to come home late Thursday for Rosemary’s Friday morning birth, and stay through this morning.
Signs and American flags were in abundance. “You’re our Hero,” “God Bless America and Patrick too,” “God Bless Our Troops. We’re praying for you” and “Hurry Back Home” were the red-white-and-blue sentiments papering the yard.
Another placard, signed Jacob, Evelyn and Rosemary, read: “Dear God, Please Keep Our Daddy Safe.”
The signs were a surprise to Wooten. After getting his wife and baby out of the cold, he, Jacob and Evelyn wandered through the yard, reading them. “This is overwhelming,” he said.