News on 6 connects a soldier in Iraq with his Talala family

Wednesday, November 16th 2005, 9:19 am
By: News On 6

A soldier’s family from Talala gets to see a video of their son in Iraq. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has the story, from the home front.

There’s no corner of a Talala house without something patriotic. And there alongside all those flags is the picture of 1st Sgt Michael Shirley. For his mother, pictures are an important connection. Mary Barnes: "You get out the pictures and you look at them and then you close your eyes and picture a day when he was around."

She does that because Sgt Shirley hasn't been home to Oklahoma for more than a year. He's serving with an infantry unit just south of Baghdad.

1stSgt Michael Shirley: "For day to day patrols it's like serving as a police officer through any normal town.”

The News on 6 arranged a satellite interview with Sgt Shirley, and for his mother, and brother and grandmother, it wasn't what he said, but how he looked. Mary Barnes: "He looked great."

Shirley's parents and siblings all live in Talala or Tulsa. 1stSgt Michael Shirley: "I love them to death, and they've been supportive of me through all these tours, I couldn't ask for a better family."

Like every military family, his can't help but see the news, and wonder if he's OK. They say every connection helps. Michael’s brother David Shirley: "Seeing interviews, and getting letters and emails from him and hearing how things are going from his side, it makes you feel better, but it's still scary, but I feel better when I hear things like that."

Shirley's second tour in Iraq is up in January and he'll first come home to Ft Stewart, Georgia, where his wife and 2 children live, and then his mother hopes to see him in her living room, but this time in person.