One Cottonwood soldier is settling in at home after spent the past 15 months fighting in the War on Terror.
Sgt. Gregg Ward lives in Cottonwood, but he's part of an Alabama National Guard unit out of Mobile whose primary purpose was to guard the Iraqi president. He has been in the Alabama National Guard for 27 years and this was his first tour in Iraq.
His company was sent to Baghdad to work in maintenance with Humvees and other equipment, but their primary mission was with the Iraqi president.
"We had full protection on him when he'd go on different routes and stuff, and our guys were the real heroes because they were the ones out on the roads, but they did an excellent job, took real good care of him and we brought everyone back home safe. No one got hurt, no one got shot; that was the main thing," said Gregg.
However, the company Gregg was with did have some close calls with mortar rounds and the constant threat of IEDs. Still, he and his family believe the job he did was worth the risk.
Marcia Ward says she very proud of her husband for what he'd done.
“I'm proud of all the soldiers who have gone over there and have protected our country through all this."
Though the separation was hard, Gregg and his wife say the experience was positively life-changing. Issues they may not have understood before, it seem more clear and purposeful.
"I know we've got a reason to be over there. a lot of people don't think we do but when you see how the Iraqi people have to live and how many different people Saddam is responsible for murdering, it's just unbelievable that a lot of them are still alive anyway," said Gregg.
Gregg and Marcia say from this experience they've learned the best thing we as a country can do is "support our leaders." Also, support the troops who are fighting for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Gregg believes that was also his last tour in Iraq. He plans to retire from the military within this next year.
The company Gregg went to Iraq with was made up of 23 different companies of Guard soldiers throughout the state of Alabama.