The News on 6 has shown you the tearful departures and joyful homecomings of dozens of Oklahomans, from every branch of America's military.
News on 6 anchor Tami Marler caught up with a Muskogee soldier who never expected to serve in Iraq, let-alone be headed back.
Specialist Nate Broderick has spent the last several months serving in Iraq, blowing up munitions left behind by Saddam Hussein's regime. "We've destroyed millions of tons of explosives.â€
When Nate joined the National Guard at 17, he never expected to be called to serve in a war thousands of miles away, where it's hard to tell a friendly face from the enemy. It's even hard to trust the children. "The kids like to pull this little routine on any soldier or Marine. They'll come up and tell you 'Saddam bad' and they'll stomp their foot, and they'll say 'Bush good. Bush number one.' It's interesting. It's a different world. Especially for me. I'm 19 years old. I'm a young'n.â€
He says he was glad to go and serve, but even happier to come back home. "Wow, you're in a country where you're appreciated and no one is trying to kill you. It's relaxing to know that you can just come home and forget about what's going on and relax for 15 days."
Nate is home in Muskogee on a 2-week leave. That's barely enough time to take down the yellow ribbons.
Like all of the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, loved ones here on the home front worry, wait and pray for their safe return. "It's just got to be constant stress and pressure just knowing that you're surrounded by enemies." Nate's mother, Sherril Flood and grandparents are proud of his commitment, proud that he's helping to bring democracy and stability to Iraq and they're soaking up every moment until he leaves.
"75-80 hours to go. It's going to get tougher every day, and Monday will be I'm sure like having my heart ripped out."
Nate leaves for Iraq first thing Monday morning, back to destroying tons of munitions in 140-plus degree heat. He expects to serve another six months there, his stint with the National Guard runs through 2008.
His family feels lucky to have had him home.