Local Army parents say they are "lucky" to have sons home - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Local Army parents say they are "lucky" to have sons home

BROWNSBORO, TX (KLTV) - The Willard family of Brownsboro is celebrating this Veteran's Day. For the first time in nine years, both of the sons they sent into the Army and off to Iraq are safely home.

"It feels good," says Mike Willard.

"I'm glad for them to be home. I don't have to worry about them being gone. They're here. And I'm very proud of both of my boys," says his wife, Paula.

Proud is a word the Willards use a lot when they're talking about their sons, Sergeants Wayne and James Willard.

"I'm proud of both of the boys, that they went and served where I couldn't," says Mike.

Both sons went into the Army straight after high school, both have served tours in Iraq ... and both came home.

As Mike and Paula describe it, the waiting was rough. Wayne went to Iraq in April 2003, with the second wave of troops after the invasion.

"When Wayne went, I worried. At first, I was watching the TV all the time, trying to see what was going on, you know, pictures that was coming across, I didn't know where he was over there. I just knew he was there, somewhere. I just didn't know where. So every time the TV would come on, I had it on watching, thinking, maybe I'll see him, maybe I'll see him. Then I got to where I couldn't do that because it got too hard," Paula says.

They hung on to every phone call with Wayne, and every Skype call with James, but this past August, Mike and Paula Willard had the moment they had been waiting for: Their son James came back from Iraq, and the family was together again.

"So I had one boy go over in the beginning and I had one go over in the end, but you know, I tell people, my feeling on it is, yeah, what happened to the United States was bad, and my boys went and fought for that, but I sent two boys halfway around the world and I got two boys home," Paula says. "I'm one of the lucky moms."

This year will be the first time in nine years the whole Willard family will be together for the holidays, something they say they are grateful for.

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