The airplane arrived early but Alma Nelson did not mind at all. She would be able to greet her son Travis early. Travis will be able to spend the next two weeks at home with his family and friends before he goes back to Fort Carson Colorado and trains for his next assignment.

Travis has completed a fifteen month tour of duty assigned to Fox Company of the 12th Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He serves as a Diesel Mechanic, responsible for keeping equipment operating under some of the worst conditions in the world, the war in Iraq. As anyone in his position would be he is ready for some rest and relaxation.

After exchanging hugs with his family Travis walked out of the airport and was greeted by twenty five members of the Patriot Guard who had come to escort him to his Bridge City home. They were lined up in facing ranks and greeted Travis with salutes. He proudly walked between the ranks and greeted and thanked each of them. They in turn thanked him for his service to our country. Travis had traveled home comfortably in his civilian clothes but changed into his uniform for the rest of the day’s events. He came back dressed in his uniform, hugged his mom and was ready to go home.

Gene Guidry who was in command of the riders formed the group in escort formation and the trip to Bridge City was underway. As the Patriot Guard provided the escort there were two Port Arthur Police Officers on motorcycles providing traffic control. Sgt. Scott Gaspard and Officer Josh Abshier professionally provided uninterrupted travel to Travis’ home. Along Texas Avenue vehicles were pulling to the side and stopping as a show of respect as the procession passed them by. After turning onto Roundbunch the same respect was shown. At the final turn onto the Nelson’s street there was a family proudly holding an American flag and a Texas flag.

In the front yard of the Nelson home was a large sign proclaiming "Welcome Home Travis." There were chairs and tables on the driveway and a table was set in the garage with a large cake in the center. There was punch and coffee along with the cake. The crowd of fifty or so were made to feel at home.

At one time or another every one in attendance gave Travis a welcome and a thanks for his service. "I would like to thank everyone for their support and especially for their prayers while I was in Iraq," Travis said.

Travis’ time in Iraq was mostly spent in repair facilities trying along with his fellow soldiers to keep the equipment operational. He says "it is hard due to the extreme conditions. The terrain is very rough and hard on the equipment and there is always the dust and the sand." There were times when a vehicle was damaged too badly to return under its own power. When that happened it was Travis’ job along with others in his unit to go out and retrieve the vehicle no matter what the conditions. Other jobs that had to be done under dangerous conditions were called "barrier missions" when the soldiers would have to go out and erect barricades and barriers on streets and other roadways. There were times when the danger was very real and the stress level was very high. Travis is thankful to have come through all that unharmed. At this time, he is not scheduled to return to Iraq, but there is always the possibility that it could occur.

He received his Christmas present a little late and it was a great surprise. As he was standing in front of the home he could hear a horn blowing loudly. It was Alma Nelson in a bright red pickup truck she was giving Travis. His jaw dropped nearly to the ground when he realized that it was for him. After he hugged and thanked his mom he said, "that makes up for Christmas in Iraq."