HomeMedford NewsMedford and Tabernacle welcome home soldier with Operation Yellow Ribbon

Medford and Tabernacle welcome home soldier with Operation Yellow Ribbon


For most people, the Fourth of July weekend involves barbecues, parades and fireworks, but for one soldier who recently returned home from Afghanistan, his weekend included a little something extra.

On the morning of July 5, United States Army Sgt. Robert St. John, a Tabernacle resident and graduate of the Shawnee High School class of 1996, was surprised with an event in his honor where hundreds of people filled the stadium at his alma mater to thank him for his military service and cheer his return home as if he were a rock star.

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St. John was escorted to Shawnee by The Warriors Watch Riders, a troop support group of motorcycle enthusiasts, and upon his arrival, he was greeted by the waving flags and blaring sirens from hundreds of friends, family, police, fire and rescue departments. Once inside the stadium, he was presented with proclamations from several local officials.

St. John said he was completely surprised by the event.

“Totally blown away, would have never expected this, would have never expected to come back to this high school,” St John said.

The event was planned by the Marlton-based charity Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey, which in addition to planning welcome home events also collects donations for care packages for the men and women serving overseas in the armed forces.

St. John and those he served with him in Afghanistan had been recipients of OYRSJ care packages, and he thanked OYRSJ President Dave Silver for everything the group sent, which ended up being so generous that it was more than St. John and those he served with could use.

“I’d rather have too much than not enough, because there are people out there that don’t get mail at all because they’re too far away,” St. John said. “So what we would do is we would take the care packages that we got and we would send them out there ourselves. So I thank you all for the donations. Nothing goes to waste over there with us.”

St. John also thanked the community and his family for their support. In particular, he thanked his wife Christine, who as an OYRSJ member was a big part in planning the event.

For a surprise of his own, St. John stood in front of the crowd and presented his wife with a certificate and coin honoring her for displaying the finest qualities of an army wife, such as loyalty, respect, integrity and personal courage.

“It’s just so cool,” Christine said. “He’s so thoughtful and very appreciative and I’ve just been blown away by all of it. “

St. John had also surprised his wife a few days earlier by not telling her exactly when he was leaving his base to come home.

“I was sitting on the deck and he came around the corner playing our wedding song with a big bouquet of flowers,” Christine said. “It was awesome, but I got him back.”

Silver told St. John and his wife that he’s planned hundreds of events with OYRSJ, but with the two of them trying to surprise the other, he had never been more excited and stressed at the same time.

“I felt like a double agent talking out of both sides of my mouth where I almost got conversations mixed up, forgot who I was talking to, forgot what I said…so I just want to let you know that I got a lot more gray hairs because of the two of you, but it’s worth it,” Silver said.

St. John later once again praised the work of OYRSJ, and said he plans to be involved with the group in the future.

“I wish the word was out there more, because I didn’t even know they existed until I was over there and my wife got involved with them…they’re amazing, and I’m definitely going to become a part,” St. John said.


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