Green Country Heroes Welcomed Home From Afghanistan

Friday, May 6th 2011, 4:51 pm
By: News On 6 & Emily Baucum, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Two Green Country families were reunited with their loved ones serving overseas Friday.

Lance Corporal Bryce Crostwait, United States Marine Corps, received a hero's welcome as he returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Lisa Croswait, Bryce's mother: "I'm so glad you're back!"
Marine Lance Corporal Bryce Croswait: "I am too, Mom."

"Not knowing what he's doing or what's happening out there," Gabriela Montes, his girlfriend, said.

Crostwait, whose mother works as a teacher's assistant at Bartlesville Public Schools, was greeted not only by loved ones but also by students from his former middle school.

Madison Middle School teachers and students sent the young Marine care packages during his service.

"It's definitely good to see it because you don't hear anything about the U.S. really over there, you know," Croswait said.

Crostwait's unit endured a particularly high number of casualties while serving in Afghanistan, according to David Austin, Community Relations Coordinator for Bartlesville Public Schools.

We're used to seeing the Patriot Guard at the homecomings and military women they've never even met. But Friday, they stuck around at the airport for a very personal arrival.

"I knew it would come. Just had to wait for it. My turn," Tommy Johnson, father, said.

Tommy Johnson's a veteran and a member of the Patriot Guard. His son Justin spent a year in Afghanistan serving in the 101st Airborne.

"Our mission was to secure the area they call the home of the Taliban," SPC Justin Johnson said.

Shaking the hands of soldiers who walked in his shoes left the 24-year-old speechless.

SPC Justin Johnson: "It's rewarding. I mean, some of the people here, I don't even know. Just the fact that they took the time to come up here to welcome me home."
Tommy Johnson,: It means a lot.
SPC Justin Johnson: It means a whole lot.

Both military men will only be home a few weeks.  They say they don't have any big plans, just quality time with friends and family. 

They both return from Afghanistan days after the world learns Osama Bin Laden was killed by American forces -- a victory they're proud of but say the war on terror goes on.