Proud Father Awaits Sailor Son's Return

"Once he made up his mind, he was bound and determined to go."

That's how Tommy Russell describes his son, Dustin, who is now part of history. Everyone aboard his aircraft carrier the USS Constellation worked for one of the fastest American advances ever.

Dustin is just 20 years old.

"It was just kind of a whirlwind hoping they wouldn't go into harm's way and they went straight to the Persian Gulf," Tommy says.

Dustin grew up in Hallsville, and married his high school sweetheart here. And, he joined up. He chose the Navy, and followed tradition.

"His grandfather was in the aviation branch of the Navy."

Like every parent, and anyone who knows someone heading to war, there was a lump in Tommy's throat. But his son wanted no one to worry.

"He calmed our fears a good bit by saying 'If you're going to be in something like that, an aircraft carrier is probably a good place to be.'"

It's not on the front lines. Though, it's still in harm's way.  But, the Navy is able to give it's sailors time for one of the most important duties -- writing Mom and Dad, telling them, it's OK.

"That was really a blessing that we were able to keep up with him, and he would tell us things and say that he was all right."

Words can't replace seeing his son face-to face. "We can't hardly wait for that."

The Constellation, and Dustin, should be back by June 1. Maybe time for a summer vacation.

"We want him to have some time off, visit his friends, and get a chance to hug on him and love on him a little bit."

It'll be a homecoming like he's never seen.

Reported by Morgan Palmer