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W.O. Parmer secretary returns as bonafide hero

W.O. Parmer secretary and bookkeeper Karen Owens has always been a hero in the eyes of her children.

From cheering them up when they were sick to brightening everyone's day she has always been there for them.

However, her most heroic gesture may have come recently at a time when she was not there for them. At least, not in person. Owens was deployed to Iraq in May of 2003 with the 282-Army reserve unit out of Montgomery. She remained overseas until May of this year.

Though she may not have been with the children of W.O. Parmer, Owens was making the ultimate sacrifice to make sure they were safe.

Along with her family at W.O.Parmer Owens also had to leave her children Lorenzo, Kanitra, and Dedric Jr. and husband of six years Dedric.

While Owens was deployed she said she missed both families very much.

"I really thought about them a lot," said Owens. "I went from being around my family and children to being around grownups and children that didn't understand me."

Owens, who has been with W.O. Parmer since 1991, said the children did keep in touch with her while she was gone.

"I got lots of cards and e-mails from them," said Owens. "It was wonderful. It really helped out."

In May Owens was reunited with her W.O. Parmer children and family.

Owens said her return was very timely.

My son Dedric Jr. is just starting kindergarten," said Owens. "I got back just in time to see that."

W. O. Parmer Principal Carole Teague said she was just glad to see Owens back safe and sound.

"I'm very happy to have her back and also very proud of her," said Teague. "We're proud of Karen for the sacrifices she made for our safety and for us personally."

Teague said it took a lot of dedication for Owens to make the trip overseas.

"I know it was a hardship for her to leave her family and home for that long," said Teague. "I think she's truly a role model for the children and we are definitely happy to have her back with us safe and sound."

Owens said after serving in the military since 1979 it was time for her to step aside and spend time at home.

"I've been in since 1979," said Owens. "It is time for me to retire and spend some time at home."

Owens said there is still a member of the family that will keep the military tradition alive.

"My son Lorenzo is in the navy," said Owens. "He is stationed out in California. I told him it was time for mom to retire and let the son take over."