Home for the holiday

Army Ranger on leave from fighting in Iraq

Army Ranger Josh White is happy to be home for the Thanksgiving holiday, but his mother, Vicky White, may be even more thrilled.

The 20-year-old Craig native has been serving in the Army's 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment recently in Iraq and formerly in Afghanistan. He is back in town until Dec. 6 -- which possibly may be the best part of the today's holiday, family and friends said.

"We're going to celebrate Thanksgiving with just family," Vicky White said. "We might have to find more places for people to sit."

White is not allowed to speak much about the operations he is working on in the Army, only that he's "fighting terrorists."

He also could not say how he was lucky enough to get the time off to come home, but friends and family couldn't have cared less about the details.

"It's a really cool feeling knowing that he's going to be here," said White's sister-in-law, Caroline Dotson.

It's obvious friends and family were eager to see their soldier home.

Red, white and blue crepe paper decorations hang from lights in Vicky White's home.

One wall is plastered with pictures of White in uniform that share space with pro-Army slogans, such as the saying, "Proud Mom U.S. Army."

A helium-filled balloon reads "Welcome home, Josh."

But White wears one reminder of the grisly side of war that he may never take off.

A black bracelet on his right wrist is a memorial to one of his best friends who was killed in Iraq. Pfc. Nathan Stahl of Indiana is never far from his thoughts.

"He was one of my best friends," White said. "It was really hard, but the best way to help each other was by not flipping out."

In an effort to console Stahl's family, White said he and some other soldiers in the unit would try to visit Nathan's mom.

The sad irony isn't lost on Vicky White.

"Josh being at war is very hard," she said.

"We are blessed to get to see him."

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