Away from the action, local Marine savors the holidays

By Greg Gelpi

A family in Lovejoy had special blessings for this Thanksgiving.

After 11 months' deployment, Cpl. J.C. Mammos, 23, of the U.S. Marine Corps returned home from serving in the Middle East.

April Cannon, his sister who lives across from his home in Lovejoy, kept peeking out her window, waiting for his arrival last week.

When she spotted his vehicle, she ran across the street and rushed through the house looking for him, she said.

And the feelings were mutual, Mammos said.

Looking around at his nieces and nephew running all around, Mammos said during an interview that he was thankful to be home with his family.

"This right here," Mammos said. "My family is what I missed."

Working 12-hour shifts seven days a week, Mammos endured 11 months in the Middle East.

"Thinking about when I could be back kept me going," he said.

Arriving in America, Mammos and his fellow soldiers grew antsy as they went through two days of debriefings before being allowed to return to their families and to society.

As Mammos and other soldiers had to readjust themselves to America, they had to acclimate themselves to life in the Middle East and life in a war zone.

"I wouldn't want to do what he did," Mike Cannon, his brother-in-law, said.

Cannon spent more than three years in the Navy.

Adjusting to the Middle Eastern climate meant more than adjusting to the weather conditions, Mammos said. He also had to understand the customs of the various nationalities.

While news media presented the play-by-play action of the war, he chose not to focus too much on the media frenzy.

"It was like watching a football game," he said.

Sometimes conditions prevented him from showering for five days, but on the other hand, the military setup a recreation tent showing newly released and some unreleased movies and provided a gym for the soldiers.

Of the things the soldier and former Lovejoy High football player missed the most, he said he missed his family and Georgia Tech football.

Flying to Kuwait for the first time in December, the Marine admitted being a little nervous, but said he was just as nervous about flying as the possibility of going to war.

"I'm really not trying to act hard and tough, but I really wasn't scared because of the guys I was with," Mammos said.

Life in Kuwait began with him manning a post, stationed with gun ready watching for any movement from Iraq in the north. His primary role in the military is recovering damaged vehicles.

"He's a really modest person," his sister April Cannon said. "He doesn't like to glorify himself."

His family organized a welcome home celebration at the family's church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Jonesboro Stake.

For the most part, Mammos said the Kuwaitis and Iraqis were glad to see the American soldiers.

"They were really happy we were there," he said.

Home for a 30-day break, Mammos could return to action around Jan. 1, he said.

In the meantime, Mammos is savoring the time he has out of "cammies" and enjoying the simple things in life, he said.

Mammos said he will spend the holidays enjoying his family and such things as driving his vehicle and wearing civilian clothing.