A hero's welcome

Brian Soper, Craig policeman, returns after year in Iraq

"My folks are supposed to be here somewhere," he said.

But when it was time for the reception to begin, Soper, of Craig, took his place in line with 18 fellow soldiers outside of the armory Tuesday in Grand Junction.

The soldiers spent the past 14 months serving in Iraq. They received heroes' welcomes Tuesday in Grand Junction.

Soper, a sergeant with the Craig Police Department, drove his red Dodge pickup in a processional that went for about eight miles through the community.

People stood on street corners holding signs, waving flags and hollering words of thanks to the returning soldiers as they drove through downtown Grand Junction.

Soper said the first thing he wanted to do when he got back to Craig was spend time with his parents, William and Mary Soper, who recently moved to Craig from Michigan.

"It feels like I've been gone a lot longer than a year," Soper said.

Soper said he won't miss the weather in Iraq. "I didn't think a place could get so hot and cold at the same time," he said.

At the conclusion of Tuesday's reception, Soper was finally able to track down his parents, with whom he stood in the corner and talked, while families hugged and cried throughout the rest of the room.

"We can't believe he's home," Mary Soper said.

As far as when Craig residents can expect to see Soper patrolling the streets again in a police car, Soper said he isn't sure.

"I've got to talk to the chief tomorrow," he said, "and see if they'll let me take some time off."

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