After a year and three months at war, Sergeant Julio Cervera of the US Army came home this weekend. Home to a wife, four sons, and the whole town of Floydada who gathered in full support to celebrate his return.
You may remember this family, eight months ago NewsChannel 11 did a story on an enchilada fundraiser the family held to raise money to visit Sgt. Cervera while he was stationed in Washington, D.C. They never made it there, but now he's home.
It was almost surreal for the Cervera family on Friday night when dad finally came home. It was a moment they had been anticipating for more than a year. Sgt Julio Cervera, a helicopter electrician in the Army Reserves, was greeted by a sea of red white and blue. His family was all on hand to get the first real look at Julio in 15 months. After hugs and kisses, and a few more hugs and kisses, Julio was headed home to Floydada.
After a day to catch his breath, the town gathered to welcome him home on Sunday. It was an emotional celebration, full of smiles and tears of joy.
"It's great. It's wonderful. I mean, that was one of the things that she'd tell me was about all the support that she had. It was good knowing she was in good hands," said Julio Cervera.
Hands that she needed. Gabina had to juggle going to school with mothering their four sons, Julio Jr., Renee, Ricardo, and little Rigo.
"It was rough. It was really, really rough. If it wasn't for my mother in law and my sister helping me out, I don't know how I would've done it. And worrying about if he would make it home. It was really, really hard," said Gabina Cervera, Julio's wife.
But he's home now, a journey Julio says he's looked forward to but also been a little apprehensive of for a long time.
"Scared. Scared of what to expect in coming home. It all seemed like a dream. You're afraid that it actually is a dream and you're still in Iraq. I mean a lot of us go through that. We were talking about it back home. Well, you know, a lot of us guys always talked about what it would be like when we got home. I know many of us woke up many times dreaming we were there and we were just hoping it wasn't a dream," said Sgt. Cervera.
Still emotional, Gabina's had the same dreams.
"That I'm going to wake up and it's all not real," said Gabina.
All dreaming aside now, Sgt. Cervera says the hardest part was definitely missing his family.
"My family. My boys. My wife. Just being away from the family I think is the hardest part of it all."
The Cervera's were able to communicate regularly over the internet while he was away. As for what's ahead, Julio has quality family time and resting on his agenda. He's not sure if he'll return as a reserve or not.