KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - Officer Richard Stanley defended our country in the Iraq War for nearly a year. Now, the East Texas school resource officer turned sailor is finally back on U.S. soil.
It was all hugs, smiles, and tears at Kilgore High School. A year ago, Officer Stanley left on a mission for Iraq, with a huge send off celebration.
"Yes, I was like, 'Is he really going to come back?!'" said student, Lauren McCormick. "I really miss him!"
He returned home to a huge welcome.
"Kilgore High School has always been very good to me," said Stanley. "I would not expect anything less from them perfection. As much love and appreciation as they've shown. It's been very heart-warming."
"He's just a tremendous guy to Kilgore high school and we just couldn't be any prouder than anybody," said Principal Greg Brown.
A proud petty officer, who served as military police over detainee operations, in Camp Taji.
"We took care of the detainees," said Stanley. "We were basically the guards for the detainees."
Before Officer Stanley left for his mission, Kilgore High gave him a flag with a mission.
"We told him to take this flag that's flown over Kilgore High School to Iraq [and] fly it over your camp bring it back safely," said Brown.
Fortunately, Officer Stanley did just that.
"It's God's gift," said McCormick. "It's God's blessing to bring him back unharmed."
But the return of the flag comes with a price.
"They lost three lives so this flag carries with it the blood of service members who gave their lives," said Stanley. "I left here with the pride of the community and I returned with the pride of the community. Thanks to everybody."
True East Texas pride spoken by a well loved officer and sailor. Stanley says he can't wait to get mobbed by the kids when he returns to school. His first day back will be Monday, December 14th.