How about this for an early Christmas present? An East Texas soldier returns home from Iraq just in time to spend the holidays with his family. Wade Grizzle, of Palestine, was part of the long convoy which snaked through Iraq en route to Baghdad. He went 70 hours with no sleep, and no shower. After passing through the city of Samawah, his unit stopped to rest and let others catch up.
"We took about a twenty minute stop for that gather up," said Grizzle, "and there were some civilians walking around. We were a little wary, it didn't seem like they had any business to be there and pretty soon it became evident that they were taking pace steps to see how far we were so they could take estimates to fire mortars at us, and they did."
Two soldiers were hurt in the attack. That's as close as Grizzle got to being killed. He says after that, the Iraqi people were too busy thanking him, to want to kill him.
"They were very glad to see you, smiling, waving," Grizzle said. "They would bring the kids up, it was a good thing to see at the time. Somebody's happy that you're there and it was really nice."
Grizzle says he heard countless stories of the horrors these people were suffering under Saddam Hussein's regime. He says despite the mounting American casualties, we shouldn't lose sight of that.
"For a people to be free as a country, I was comfortable with the fact that maybe I might not come back. But, when you look around and you see a lot of people that are happy because they have their freedom to do what they choose now, it makes it worthwhile."
On the home front, Wade's wife Jessica could only take care of their two kids, watch the action on TV, and worry.
"When the phone rang, that's when your heart would jump," Jessica said, "and you'd say is this going to be it? You know, is this the call?"
Wade's mom Sharon is quite familiar with loved ones at war. Her grandfather and father both fought in World War II, while her husband fought in Vietnam. But, there's nothing like a mother's love for her child.
"This is your baby, and so, you want to protect him," Sharon said. "And you want to be assured that he's not to hot or too cold, wind not blowing too bad, or they've got something to eat."
So to have her son home for the holidays is almost overwhelming.
"I'm going to cook, and I'm looking forward to it, and I'm going to have a Christmas tree up, and we're going to have great joy. It's going to be a terrific holiday."