University of West Florida honors its OIF veteran students and faculty.
Eddie Phillips, 76, a member of the UWF Board of Trustees and a veteran of two wars, told the crowd the soldiers left all they loved behind for the well-being of others.And this elementary school welcomes home one of its teachers.
"This is the first war in the recent history of our country where citizen-soldiers' combat involvement equaled that of the regular forces," Phillips said. "They have had their lives interrupted and personal careers put on hold to serve their country."
But the soldiers asked others to remember the troops still in Iraq and to keep Staff Sgt. Dustin Tuller in their prayers.
Sgt. Dan Swartz said he wouldn't trade in his adventures with the Florida National Guard for the past year as he worked in Iraq. But by January, when he returned to Fort Stewart, Ga., he was ready to get back to his wife, his two children and his other "children."
As a teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary School, Swartz, 52, instructs students in language arts, math and just about "everything," he said. He was gone for more than a year with the Headquarters Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 124th Infantry.
More than 100 teachers, parents and students came to a homecoming party held in his honor at the library and the cafeteria Tuesday night.
Swartz said he was surprised to drive by the school and see the news of his homecoming party on the school's marquee.
"When I went by and saw the board, I was honored and humbled," he said Tuesday. "I'm not worthy. I only did what I said I would."