Tyler soldier gets first-hand experience

It was a hometown hero's welcome he would not soon forget.  Army Specialist Curtis Thompson, II, said he was very honored to know that people supported him.

'Old Glory'--perfect strangers--lined the streets to welcome Thompson, a young soldier, home from his very first tour of duty.  For 15 months, Thompson helped train Iraqi Police officers.  Since he returned, he's been gearing up for his first tour of duty as a husband.

"We've been married for eight months, and I just now got to kiss my husband for the first time," said Britney Thompson.  She married her husband on November 13, 2007.  At the time, Spc. Thompson was still serving overseas.  His father stood in for him during a proxy wedding.  His wife said her 'I do's to his photo.

"It was very weird," said Britney.  "It was not exactly the wedding I hoped for, or expected."  Her new husband is also getting ready to head off to the front lines of fatherhood for the very first time.

"It's nice to be able to meet my son and be with him," said Spc. Thompson.  Curtis Thompson, III will soon be 4-months old.  He was born while his father was away, serving his country.  He said at the time, no more soldiers could be sent home on leave, so Spc. Thompson missed his birth.  Spc. Thompson said he's now getting some first-hand experience, changing diapers, feeding his son and everything else that goes with fatherhood.  It's something any mother would be proud of.

"It's a new world for him--parent and spouse--and he's doing a wonderful job," said Tammy Legenza, Spc. Thompson's mother.  "I'm very proud of him, all the way around."  Spc. Thompson is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  He's at home in Tyler, spending time with family and friends before he and his family head back to the base.

Layron Livingston, Reporting.  llivingston@kltv.com