Soldier returns home to surprise welcome - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Soldier returns home to surprise welcome

Cindy Hodges Cindy Hodges

GILMER, TX (KLTV) - It has been six months since 24-year-old J.C. Hodges has hugged his little sister.

"I'm still in the Afghanistan mode, so I'm kind of watching my back wherever I go, but other than that I feel safe and comforted," J.C. says.

A feeling his family never wants him to forget

"We are just going to keep him here as long as he can stay and just show him how much we love him," says step-mother, Cindy Hodges.

J.C. joined the U.S. Air Force right out of high school; his younger brother, Steven, right behind him.

"It's nerve wracking sometimes, but it's an honor. I am very proud of both of my sons serving in the Air Force the way they do," says J.C.'s father, Randal Hodges.

Both of Randal's sons went on six month tours.

"They missed each other by a week," Cindy says.

A long way from home with little communication.

"We always told him, you know, we know you've got to go out, but if you could just send us a message when you get back and let us know you're okay," Cindy says.

A message that never came soon enough.

Cindy says she would often find herself wondering through the house, just waiting for that phone call.

An honorable profession, that changed their family forever.

"He told us, 'When I get back I'm not going to take anything for granted,'" Cindy says.

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