A special day for Spc. Joe Fish

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Although Spc. Joe Fish's quarters at the Kirkuk Regional Air Base in northern Iraq have many of the same amenities offered here in Craig, the Army base's Pizza Hut and Taco Bell just aren't quite enough to keep him from getting homesick.

"You can hear car bombs go off at least three times a week," Fish said.

Staying alert on routine conveys through the often volatile city of Kirkuk and dealing with three-day sandstorms made Fish's homecoming last week all the more sweet.

"I'm home, I'm back," he said. "The air is so clean here. I love it."

Returning home for two weeks of rest and relaxation, Fish wasted no time visiting his fiancee, Carrie McLeslie, surprising her at work. "It was such a shocker because I didn't know when exactly he was coming in," McLeslie said.

The surprises did not end there. The couple went straight to the Moffat County Courthouse on Monday morning to make their marriage official.

"With all the military paperwork, it will make it easier to get settled and get a house," Carrie (McLeslie) Fish said. "We'll have a big ceremony later in Craig."

The newlyweds plan to set up a home on the Grafenwoehr Army command base in Vil--seck, Germany, for the three remaining years of Fish's service.

For now, Fish has only one thing on his mind -- finishing the last six months of his deployment in Iraq. As an E-4 specialist in the 72nd Medical Detachment-Veterinary Ser--vices, Fish is fortunate to be stationed in northern Iraq, a region of relative docility inhabited mainly with ethnic Kurds and Turks. In other regions, troops find themselves caught between hostile Shiite and Sunni Islamic sects.

"By next year, I'll be a sergeant, and once I get out of Iraq to Germany, I'll have most of the credits finished toward my (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree," Spc. Fish said.

Joe Fish is looking forward to a new life in Europe and his plans to become an Army captain and veterinarian. He said he is thankful he has friends and family praying for his safety back home.

And, of course, now he has a wife.

As she reviewed digital photos of their two-week reunion, Carrie Fish said, "I just wish he could stay longer."

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