Soldier honored before Iraq duty

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It was a different kind of welcome home for an East Texas soldier, preparing for his first tour in Iraq.

Friends and family welcomed home Army Private First Class Ernest Villarreal at the Cracker Barrel in Lindale. He returned from duty at Fort Drum New York. Around 60 members of the group "Welcome Home Soldier" were on hand to greet him. And it was obvious the surprise welcome worked like a charm.

"Thank you , every single one of you thank you. I was not expecting this. It shows there's a lot of support, And I'm getting ready to go over, so knowing people got your back makes it a lot easier" said Villarreal.

Villarreal will deploy in September to Iraq for a 15-month tour.