Soldier's Family Thankful He's Home For Thanksgiving

An East Texas family is grateful to have one family member home this Thanksgiving. It's been several years since Private David Milliken has been home for the holidays. The 22-year-old has been serving overseas in Kosovo and Iraq. And in two weeks, he'll head back to Baghdad to serve at least another year. But today, his family got their wish and they thanked God for the opportunity to have David home.

"This is the first Thanksgiving or Christmas I've spent with my family in maybe three years," said Milliken.

The family said a prayer before Thanksgiving dinner not only for their own soldier but for all those serving our country. "We wish God speed to David and his friends who are going back to Iraq and all of our troops as well, that they're having a good Thanksgiving wherever they are," said Lynn Birchfield, David's father, at the dinner table.

Private Milliken has been stationed in Ft. Hood since June, after completing a 14-month mission in Baquba. In two weeks, Milliken begins his third deployment in five years -- this time to Baghdad. "To know where he's going, that makes it even harder," said Missy Birchfield, David's mother.

Milliken's uncle says it's hard to sleep at night knowing David will be, once again, in one of the most dangerous places in the world. "You might not go two weeks and not hear a word and then you hear something of anything that happens in the media and where they're supposed to be and then your heart, everything just sinks," said Joe Britton, David's uncle.

The family has revamped its holiday plans, so that they can celebrate Christmas with David. The Christmas tree, Christmas stockings and decorations are already up. "We're doing Christmas next Sunday," said Missy. It'll be an event, much like today, filled with family. Their best present will be when David's back home, safely for good.

David joined the army when he was 17. He re-enlisted in October to serve another two years.

Oralia Ortega reporting,