Soldier presents flag to Newport LabsWORTHINGTON — During his recent deployment to Afghanistan, Army Reserve SSgt. Donald Richards received care packages assembled by his wife’s co-workers at Newport Laboratories in Worthington.
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — During his recent deployment to Afghanistan, Army Reserve SSgt. Donald Richards received care packages assembled by his wife’s co-workers at Newport Laboratories in Worthington.
When Donald was home on leave, Newport Laboratories provided some of the fare at a surprise party that Allison Richards threw for her husband.
And when Donald returned from his tour of duty, Newport Labs ensured that Allison got some extra time off to welcome her husband home and help him re-acclimate to life outside the military
To show his appreciation for the company’s support of the military — and particularly the extra efforts made on his own behalf — Donald recently presented Newport Laboratories officials with a commemorative coin and flag.
The items will be displayed in the lobby area of the Prairie Holdings/Newport Laboratories headquarters, according to Randy Simonson, Newport Labs general manager/chief operating officer.
“It’s really important for the soldiers to recognize the people who support our troops and go above and beyond,” said Donald, recalling the Vietnam War era when returning soldiers were not treated with respect. “If we take that for granted, it could just as easily go away.”
“I’m one of those Vietnam guys who left a hero and came back an enemy,” noted Simonson.
As part of the 407th Civil Affairs Battalion, Donald’s main duty during his deployment was going out into the Afghan communities and assessing the level of hostility and cooperation and “what we could do to influence that.”
The flag that Donald presented to Newport Laboratories was flown over Base Salerno in Khost Province, Afghanistan.
Currently a senior pursuing a degree in microbiology at South Dakota State University, Donald returned to his Adrian home about a month ago.
“I had 62 days of leave saved up, so I’m not done until March 10,” Donald explained. “Then I have to start going to my Yellow Ribbon events … which are designed to help us reintegrate into society.”
In addition to the flag tribute, Donald also nominated Newport Laboratories for an ESGR — Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve award — and was planning to follow up on the status of the nomination.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at