Marine from Forsyth County and his family say they have a lot to be thankful for. And a Bible passed down through generations of servicemen is proof of dedication to God and country.
Sgt. John Wade returned to the United States from Afghanistan in June and has been home in Georgia for a few weeks.
The tour was his third deployment.
Wade, a 2006 graduate of South Forsyth High School, said he always wanted to be in the military.
“Even through high school, I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t want to do anything like that,” he said. “I’d rather go to Army surplus stores than toy stores growing up.”
Wade’s decision to serve his country is almost genetic.
His maternal great-grandfather fought in World War I, both of his grandfathers fought in World War II, and an uncle and a great-uncle fought in the Vietnam War.
“I think we have eight great-uncles on my husband’s side that served either with the Korean War or with World War II,” said his mother, Judy Wade. “When you start counting all the people who are military in our family, there’s a great legacy. It’s kind of in his blood and could not be bred out.”
Wade has served two deployments in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.
Before his first deployment, he was given a Bible that his maternal great-grandfather took with him to Europe in WWI.
Wade carries the Bible in a small tin on which his grandmother had engraved the Bible verse Psalm 91:2. On the bottom of the tin, Wade has written the names of countries he has taken the Bible to, including Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Germany.
He keeps a picture in the tin of Lance Cpl. John Malone and wears a bracelet in honor of Cpl. Matthew Lembke. Both Marines, Wade’s good friends, were fatally wounded while serving in Afghanistan during his first deployment.
Despite the loss of war, Wade said while serving overseas he was warmed by the support he received not only from family but from those who’d never even met him.
“My whole squad was blown away by the support from Forsyth County,” Wade said. “The guys loved it and they appreciated it a lot.
“They couldn’t believe how much support could come out,” he said. “They’re from all over the country and a lot of places they don’t get to see that kind of community support.”
While he was in Afghanistan, Wade’s wife gave a presentation to students at Vickery Creek Middle School about what troops and their families go through while away.
“A lot of people don’t understand all the stuff that you go through, so I shared that with them,” Ananda Wade said. “I showed pictures of him when he was the age of the kids I was speaking to so they could relate with him.”
She told the children that communication was difficult, and at times she’d go for weeks without hearing from her husband.
The students collected items for care packages to send to the troops in Afghanistan. They, along with students from Cumming, Midway and Sawnee elementaries, have also put pen to paper to offer their support.
The second-grade class of Wade’s niece, Maddy, wrote letters, though they were too late to send before Wade returned to the U.S. Some of the letters thanked him for killing Osama Bin Laden, while others asked about Wade’s favorite sports and expressed their love for the Marines. One asked him if he’d ever used a nuclear weapon.
Wade said the letters meant a lot to him and his squad.
“We get a kick out of them,” he said.
His mother noted that local churches have also sent much-needed items overseas.
“We want to keep it in the forefront that even though a lot of people may not support the war effort, it’s so important to support (the troops),” Judy Wade said.
And Wade carries with him a reminder of the sacrifice not only of his friends, but of the generations that have gone before him.
The Bible was passed on to Wade’s grandfather and eventually to him. In 93 years, the Bible has been taken to war six times.
His grandmother, Jane Creamer Thompson, said her brother, Donald Creamer, had kept the Bible after taking it to Vietnam.
“When John was about to be deployed, (Creamer’s) wife brought it back to me and said for us to present it to John,” Thompson said. “So we’ve presented it three times and thank goodness they brought it back every time.”