June 03, 2005 -- Posted at 12:00 A.M. CDT
Bradford, AR -- Driving into the city of Bradford.....there's one thing you notice right away.
"This town has always been patriotic....it really has been," said Mayor Paul Bunn.
Patriotism decorates the homes and businesses throughout the town.
It's obvious the town supports, and is very proud of it's soldiers.
"It makes me feel that what we did was worth while," said Chief of Police, Joshua Chambliss.
Thirteen Bradford residents were deployed to Iraq, and were gone for more than a year.
Police Chief Joshua Chambliss left Bradford as a husband and soldier, but he returned to a new title---dad.
"It's been a real pleasure being with her," said Chambliss.
Not only was the city's police chief called to duty, so was the mayor.
"So much has changed, so much of the people have changed. I know we have changed. It is hard to come back in and pick up where you left off, in fact, it's impossible," said Bunn.
Adjusting to life back home, hasn't been easy.
Memories from Iraq still haunt Paul Bunn when he closes his eyes.
"Loud noises, trains coming through. It's a rattling experience. You don't believe it's a bomb--all loud noises meant bad things over there," said Bunn.
He has disarmed the alarm in house, and the car is silent when he opens his door.
He openly admits he isn't getting through this on his own.
"The soldiers have to get counseling, the families have to get counseling. If it takes some mood stabilizers than don't be embarrassed about it," said Bunn.
The trials and tribulations these two men experienced, and how this small town overcame adversity when its two leaders were called to a different type of duty is a story that developed over time..... Time magazine that is.
"4 million readers--why us. This is what I tell people.....Bradford made me popular, I didn't make Bradford popular," said Bunn.
Both men say they are not the same as when they left. The "I love you's" come more often, and the hugs say more than words ever could.
"For some reason I have made it. I have got to do this right. Everyday has to be done right so that I can pay back God for the gift of life," said Bunn.