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A Matter Of Opinion

SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 2008, 7:17 A.M.

The return of Col. Darel Maxfield

We sure miss Jamie Tobias Neely around here. She left the newspaper to be a professor type at Eastern Washington University.

Luckily, we can still read her columns once a month on our pages.

Today, she updated the story she followed about Col. Darel Maxfield, a Spokane teacher on duty in Iraq. Her column this morning is quite moving, explaining how Maxfield adjusts to civilian life.


Maxfield recently met me at Old European, where he ordered a stew omelet and mentally scanned the dining room for rifles. His brain was still walking guard duty in Iraq. Like many returning soldiers, he arrived home in one piece, but not necessarily unscathed...

Here, the city's lush green foliage astounded him. "I cannot tell you how wonderful the water and the air is," he told me over breakfast. "I just can't."

He read the newspaper in the mornings, bemused at the vehement complaints about the condition of the city's streets. "The roads may be bumpy," he said, "but God Almighty, they don't blow up."

The night before our breakfast he watched the news on television. It showed no pickup trucks arriving in Spokane filled with twisted and mangled dead bodies. No rockets fell on anybody's head. No helicopters swooped in as gunships.

Any of you who served in the military remember how it felt to come home?

(Darel Maxfield and his wife, Lesley. S-R photo by Rebecca Nappi)

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