Cross-country soldier support - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cross-country soldier support

Jesus Dluna Jesus Dluna
Jesus, his wife, and sister Jesus, his wife, and sister
Freddy Lopez Freddy Lopez

August 1, 2003

Ft. Stewart, Hinesville, Ga.-- How far would you drive to see your favorite soldier coming back from Iraq?

One California couple got word only two days before their son was returning to Ft. Stewart, so they embarked on the long drive, but say it was well worth it.

"From California, all the way from Santa Barbara," exclaimed Jesus Dluna.

Jesus and his family drove two days and two nights to see his son come back from war. "Only 20 mintues... I'm so excited and so happy to see him!" said Jesus.

Private First Class Freddy Lopez doesn't know his dad, mom and aunt are sitting in the crowd at Fort Stewart.  "No clue at all. It's going to be a big surprise for him," said Jesus.

Lopez watched all the other soldiers getting hugs, kisses and gifts. Eventually he found his surprise. "California is pretty far away," said PFC Freddy Lopez. "They were told at the last minute. I was kind of hoping they were here. Seeing them felt real good!"

He was not only happy to see his family, but all the strangers taking pride in the red, white and blue. "You're out there risking your life, and you come back here and you got all these people supporting you, so if feels good," said Freddy.

This Californian hero wasn't expected to be with his family until September. More 3rd Infantry soldiers are expected to return this weekend.

posted at 3:30 PM by dave.miller@walb.com