The eyes of Americans have been on the chaos in Afghanistan that ultimately led to the suicide bombing deaths of more than 180 people, including 13 U.S. military service members.
That was the backdrop on Saturday afternoon as family and friends welcomed home Army Spc. Brandon Silva, a Holmesburg resident who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2019 and spent several months there.
“It was a culture shock. It was mainly defensive operations. I was one of the lucky ones,” said Silva, recalling that some of his buddies gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Mike Tomlinson, Silva’s next-door neighbor on the 4400 block of Oakmont St., organized the welcome home, along with John Peter Zadzura.
“We are honoring a young man and all veterans on behalf of our country,” Tomlinson said.
Family and friends gathered in the park area near Rowland Avenue and Rhawn Street to greet Silva, 23, a graduate of New Foundations Charter School.
The crowd sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and Silva received presentations from Warriors’ Watch Riders, A Hero’s Welcome, Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans and local children. Engine 36 and Ladder 20 fire trucks were on hand to greet Silva, and 15th Police District patrol cars controlled traffic. State Rep. Joe Hohenstein was there, too.
Silva encourages other communities to honor returning service members.
“I hope when they come home, they have the same kind of welcome home I did,” he said. “It means everything.”
Silva enlisted in 2018 and will receive his honorable discharge in December. He is pursuing potential careers, including law enforcement.
As for the current situation in Afghanistan, Silva said the U.S. mission is complete.
“We’ve been there so long. We need to pull out,” he said. ••