Pocahontas Welcomes Home a Soldier

April 25, 2004--Posted at 6:00 p.m. CDT

POCAHONTAS--"It feels wonderful to be back home,"said Sergeant First Class Walter Neal Ray.

Family and friends welcomed home Sergeant First Class Walter Neal Ray at the Church of God in Pocahontas on Sunday, he has been stationed in Iraq since early April of 2003.

Ray addressed the congregation this morning describing his war experience and how everyday was a battle to survive.

"You really have to be on your guard for explosives, devices, and for enemies shooting at you" said Ray.

He says he will never forget the images of those who have the most to lose.....they are Iraq's future.

"The children...3 and 4-year-olds would be lined on the streets begging for food and water," he said.

Several people honored Sergeant Ray this morning....including the Mayor of Pocahontas.

Mayor Crocker brought a token of the community's appreciation for what he has done for our country.

"The key to the city just welcomes him home and shows him our gratitude. We do that for people who have done something significant or important that is worthy of receiving a key to the city,"said Mayor Crocker.

Then, there was another surprise......

"Friday, April 30th, will be Walter Neal Ray day in the city of Pocahontas,"said Mayor Crocker.

Sergeant Ray says, "it was the people down in the congregation that kept him going while he was in Iraq...knowing that he was in their hearts and prayers."

One person, in particular, is especially glad to have him home.....

"....just being a family again and enjoying each other most of all,"said Ray's Wife, Belinda Ray.

Sergeant Ray said it is still very important to remember the troops still over in Iraq.