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Back from Kuwait deployment, Humphrey returns to city duty

CENTRAL POINT — Tom Humphrey says it's great to be back home.

"Kuwait is definitely not a vacation spot, in my humble opinion," Humphrey said, reflecting on the country's 120-degree heat, cold nights and ferocious sand storms.

Central Point's community development director is back on the job after 11 months of active duty. A Navy reservist for 25 years, he was called up to serve with a Marine unit protecting ships and offshore oil platforms.

Humphrey, 56, was a lieutenant commander with the Marine's Maritime Expeditionary Boat Division 56, which was assigned to escort ships and protect oil platforms in the Persian Gulf.

"Our work was largely to do with security forces, protecting U.S. shipping and the redeployment of American equipment and personnel," he said Friday.

The work was not unlike his job with the city, Humphrey said.

"It was kind of like planning because you had to go through the different steps and different committees to get site plans approved for construction of entry control points," he said. "You had to get money and people, like contractors, moving to have something built "¦ just lots to do."

While he was away, city officials kept Humphrey abreast of developments and sent monthly care packages.

"They made my deployment more comfortable," he said.

When Humphrey left, the city's veterans memorial was still in the works. Now, Don Jones Memorial Park boasts a playground with a water-spray feature for kids and a large military memorial fills part of the nine-acre park.

Development Services Manager Matt Samitore said city staff are relieved to have Humphrey back on duty with them.

"Obviously we missed him," Samitore said, "but from a city perspective, I was doing two or three different jobs while he was gone so it's nice to have him back.

"It was a pretty slow year when it came to land use applications," Samitore said, "but Tom does a lot around here so it's certainly nice to have him back where he belongs."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

Humphrey posted a reminder of home while he was stationed in Kuwait. photo courtesy Tom Humphrey - submitted photo