DURANT, Okla. -- The war in Iraq continues, but one local soldier returned home to Durant earlier this month bearing pieces of history with him for his family.
The wait for Tabitha Gatlin ended August 18th when her husband Kevin returned home after his second tour of duty in Iraq, but unlike his last tour, this time Kevin Gatlin brought more than just himself.
"I just heard about because a bunch of buddies of mine came home with flags one day and things like that and I asked them where they got them and you could go to the palace, and they'll fly them for you and get the general to authenticate them for you and make it a big deal," soldier Kevin Gatlin says.
This morning, Kevin presented his parents and mother and father in-law with American flags flown over Saddam Hussein's palace in Iraq.
It was a surprise to all of them, who weren't expecting anything at all.
"It’s just a sign of our troops and everybody that’s over there and how proud we are of all of them all of the men and women in our armed forces, they're just doing a tremendous job over there."
During Gatlin's first tour of duty, he worked as a gunner and was hurt after an IED exploded next to his convoy.
This past year, he worked to protect those same soldiers he rode with a couple of years ago.
"This time, I was actually adding armor to gun trucks so it’s kind of made me feel good about it because I was protecting guys that were doing the same thing trying to protect them from whatever I can."
For the time being, he’ll be stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, not knowing when or if he will have to go back to the Middle East, but his parents are optimistic and proud.
"He’s back right now and he's going to be back for a while so hopefully he wont have to go back over there and we are proud of him, very proud of everybody that’s up there and, we hope they all get to come home safe."