11 reasons to smile

By Lakecia Shockley - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - To see one soldier step off the plane makes you smile, but then to see 10 more soldiers follow is breath taking.

"We're all anxious," said Cynthia Horn, a proud grandmother. "We're all emotional!"

That's because 11 East Texas soldiers made it home safe.

"I didn't know how many was coming," said Spc. Rodney Alford, 26. "I knew I was coming. So, that's what counts."

Family, friends and members of "Welcome Home Soldiers" were there to show their support.

"I'm back in East Texas, good old East Texas!" said Specialist Christopher Parker of Carthage.

"It's priceless," said Specialist Stephen Owen, who spent the last nine months in Iraq. "Words can't explain it!"

For Specialist Owen, getting to hold and kiss his 3-year-old son, Scott, means the world. He can't wait for that father-son time.

"Taking this little one fishing," said Owen.

From father to son...to brother to brother, Spc. Ryan and Rodney Alford both got to home. So what did they miss most?

"This right here, my family!" said Rodney.

For Ryan, seeing his little 11 month old Shia is all he dreamed about.

"We had Shia in September of last year and then we left for Iraq," he said "I came home on leave got to spend two weeks with her and then left out again and it's been about six months since then."

For the soldiers getting the recognition makes them grateful.

"I mean, they see us walking and see the uniform and start applauding and that feels really good," said Parker.

Feeling good and home for good.

"We're done," said Parker. "We're here for good! We're staying 'til they decide to try and pull us again for another deployment."

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