From Tikrit to Tyler: An East Texas soldier stationed in Iraq has returned home for a little rest and relaxation.
21-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Eric Severson has served in Iraq since February.
For the past six months, Eric has only seen the faces of his wife and 13-month-old son on photo images.
However on Wednesday Eric, Heather and E.J. were face to face again.
"It feels good," Eric said. "It feels really good to be back home after being away for so long, to see my wife, my son. I haven't seen them in forever."
Heather said she couldn't hold back her emotions when Eric told her he was coming home.
"I started crying and I started telling E.J his daddy was coming home," Heather said.
"I feel ten times better and more relaxed now than I did a week or 2 weeks ago when I was still in Tikrit," Eric said.
Tikrit has seen some of the most intense fighting during the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Eric said he's witnessed many incidents he found difficult to talk about. He said thoughts of family in East Texas have kept him going.
"Thank God for AT&T and Sagovia," he said with a laugh. "I'm able to call my wife at least twice or three times a week. I get on the internet, I get pictures of my son."
"I've had my bad times where you get to the point where you need a break. I was getting to the point where I just couldn't stand being there anymore. Not really the place," he explained, "It's just being away from the family. You have to have a break."
The U.S. turned over control of Iraq in June. Eric said since then he's seen a dramatic change in the country.
"They're starting to build their own government. They're building their areas back up. It's starting to be really nice out there. The majority of the people want us there. They thank us for being there all the time. There's the select few and very few, but you hear about them all the time, that just don't want us there."
Eric said those who have lost their lives in Iraq, did so for the freedom of others.
"Every soldier that's died, they didn't die in vain and they're all heroes, every single one of them."
Eric will return to Iraq in two weeks. He has re-enlisted for another four years of service in the U.S. Army.
Maya Golden, reporting.