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Senior Airman Phillip Denson, center, has his picture made with Kendon Pointer, 4, and Orion Pointer, 8, at a party Saturday at First Christian Church to welcome Denson home after serving in Iraq. Denson is essentially the boys’ godfather, according to their father, David Pointer.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Senior Airman Phillip Denson, center, has his picture made with Kendon Pointer, 4, and Orion Pointer, 8, at a party Saturday at First Christian Church to welcome Denson home after serving in Iraq. Denson is essentially the boys’ godfather, according to their father, David Pointer.

Back from Iraq
Prayers answered as church celebrates airman’s return

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com · 340-2432

A congregation’s prayers were answered, so about 60 members of First Christian Church turned out Saturday evening to welcome the focus of those prayers home from Iraq.

They held a barbecue chicken dinner for Senior Airman Phillip Denson to celebrate his return from his second tour in Iraq war.

“The support these people have given me has been overwhelming,” Denson said. “It definitely makes it a lot easier when you get over there.”

He said the congregation sent “endless letters and care packages” during his time in the campaign. His father, Johnny Denson, said the members “prayed faithfully” every Sunday and Wednesday night for Phillip and the other 12 family members or friends of church members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Rev. Carol Hallman, associate pastor, said the church prayed that angels would protect Denson.

He needed all the protection he could get, particularly during his first tour of duty. He wasn’t sitting in a plane miles above the action or on a ship at sea.

Starting Jan. 2, 2004, he lived at Balad Air Force Base in Northern Iraq and spent about 18 months running a gun truck escort as part of convoy security. These convoys ran almost daily.

“We got hit about every time out,” said Denson, 28. “It wasn’t pretty the first time.”

Despite the danger, he was never injured and he didn’t lose any of his comrades.

He returned to the war zone exactly a year later, but this time he went to Kuwait and Camp Arifjan on Sept. 9, 2006. The eight-month tour wasn’t as dangerous because he drove a truck in the convoys instead of driving the gun truck. But he knew that any time he went outside the base fences he was in danger.

Longtime friend April Bohannon and his sister, Cathy Denson, arranged the dinner. Bohannon, who went to school with Denson at Austin High, said they wanted to make sure he got a proper welcome home this time.

After his first tour, friends went to meet him in New Jersey but didn’t hold any kind of celebration.

“It’s nice to have him home on U.S. and Alabama soil,” Bohannon said.

Denson has already re-enlisted for five years. He returns to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. He thinks he’ll probably make another tour in the war.

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