Soldier Returns Home From Iraq

After two years of fighting in Iraq, an East Texas soldier comes home to a heroes welcome. 22-year-old Army Specialist Arnold Gonzalez Junior never knew what was in store for him when he arrived Wednesday night in Longview.

Gonzalez chose to run the last hundred yards to his family's home on Walter street. For family, friends and neighbors, it was a homecoming they'd waited a long time for.

"I just wanted to hold him and give him a big kiss and hug and tell him hey welcome home glad to have him here" said his father, Arnold Gonzalez, Sr.

"It's been hectic and nervous and sleep less nights and worrying, praying all wrapped up in one but he's coming home" said Gonzalez's mother, Anna Gonzalez.

Waving American flags and shouting welcome home, dozens turned out in a blustery cold in the neighborhood Gonzalez grew up in to let him know, his service was appreciated.

"I didn't know until halfway here that all this was going to happen. I expected that I'm gone I haven't been here for a while and nobody remembers me but I guess not" the soldier says.

It's a block that has several family members in service, and when one comes home, they're all family.

"It's a wonderful new year. I came home. I wasn't really scheduled to be home 'till late this month, my unit fought to be home for this Christmas and not miss another one." said Gonzalez Junior.

"I feel for the families out there who's loved ones don't come home my heart goes out to them" Anna says.

"I'm extremely proud of him" his father said.

The welcome party is not over for Specialist Gonzalez. His family has reserved the Rio Palm Isle in Longview Friday Night for a welcome home party, and the public is invited.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting.