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Soldier came back from Afghanistan to home destroyed by fire
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Army Spc. Michael Walker and his wife Kim look over the area where a dryer caught fire Wednesday, destroying their East Hall home. - photo by Tom Reed
Donations for the Walkers
Make donations at any area Wachovia Bank, made out to Kimberly Nicole Walker or Michael Walker, in care of Frances Hamrick. For more information, call 770-531-5154.

It wasn’t the kind of homecoming Army Spc. Michael Walker envisioned.

After a year of active-duty service in Afghanistan, Walker, 32, was looking forward to heading back to the East Hall home he shares with his wife and their four children, ages 3, 8, 11 and 13.

He returned stateside last week from his second overseas combat deployment with Charlie Company, part of Georgia’s 48th Infantry Brigade, 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry. The couple was at Fort Stewart near Savannah Wednesday doing some last-minute shopping on the base before making the four-and-a-half-hour drive back to Hall County, where the soldier planned on taking some hard-earned R&R.

“I was looking forward to kicking my feet up on the coffee table and watching some movies,” Walker said.

Instead, he got a frantic phone call from his sister-in-law saying his home was on fire.

By the time the Walkers got back, their mobile home was essentially a total loss, with smoke and water damage throughout. No one was hurt. Hall County fire officials believe the fire started in a clothes dryer.

The Walkers lost nearly all their belongings.

“We’re hanging in there,” Michael Walker said this week. “Stuff happens, sometimes it just happens at the wrong time.”

The misfortune befalling a man just returning from service to his country has not gone unnoticed.

“I know the community will step in and help,” said Tresa Reagan Burnette, a close friend of Kim Walker who has known the couple since their days at East Hall High School. “It’s amazing when something like this happens how friends and total strangers will step in and help. They’re not alone – people are there for them.”

Burnette has helped set up a bank account at Wachovia for donations to the Walkers, who are temporarily staying with the soldier’s in-laws next door.

Michael Walker said he’s looking at having the trailer hauled off and building on the land later.

“There’s nothing concrete,” he said. “Right now I’ve got to worry about getting a job.”

Walker may not have had the perfect homecoming, but he’s still glad that a long, hot and gruelling deployment is complete.

“This doesn’t change the fact that I’m happy to be home,” Walker said. “Nobody’s hurt, so that’s all that matters.”

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