East Texas Soldier Back From Iraq Is Making The Most Of His Time - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/04/08-Van Zandt County

East Texas Soldier Back From Iraq Is Making The Most Of His Time

It was a small construction job for one East Texas custom home builder and his son.  For Kenneth Jeffcoat, the project--building a simple deck--was less about the job, and more about spending quality time with his son.

Kenneth's oldest son, U.S. Army Sgt. Dustin Jeffcoat gave him a helping hand, Monday morning--a soldier back from a 15 month tour of duty in Iraq. 

"The First few months were the hardest," said Sgt. Jeffcoat.  It was in those few weeks after deploying to Iraq when he said it began to sink in that he would not see those he loved for quite a while.

"It was a special closeness," said Kenneth, thinking back on the times he spent with his son before the war.  "We talked almost two, or three times a week.  We missed him, and he missed us," he said with tears in his eyes.  He said it was very difficult to see his son go off to war, not knowing if he would ever come back.

Starlyn Jeffcoat, Sgt. Jeffcoat's mother, said since her 23 year old son's been home, she finds it hard not to peak in on him while he sleeps at night.  "I'm just making sure he's really there--that it's not a dream.  He's there," she said.

While soldier and dad caught up, a community prepared to honor and welcome their hometown hero in grand style. 

With his own police escort and cheering section, dozens cheered as Sgt. Jeffcoat drove into the parking lot of Ranchero Restaurant in Canton, where inside, city, county, state, and national officials, community members and veterans honored him for his service.  The city even declared February 4th as Sgt. Dustin Jeffcoat Day--a show of appreciation he said he will never forget.

"It's nothing more than somebody doing their job," Sgt. Jeffcoat said.  "I did exactly what I signed on to do."  But anyone that has their own holiday would feel good about it, he said.

Layron Livingston, Reporting  llivingston@kltv.com




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