Since January of 2007, Private First Class Dallas Hanson's world has revolved around Iraq. Now, after spending fifteen months in Baghdad, he finally gets to come home and see his family.
"He was just mom, I gotta get back down there," said Wendy Hoffman, Hanson's mother. "He would say I gotta get in the army. I know this is what I want to be doing."
Hoffman says since her son was in kindergarten, all he wanted to do was join the U.S. military.
"It's been his whole life, his dream," said Hoffman.
And it's a dream he had to fight for. Hanson is an American-Canadian dual citizen. As such, it took three years before the U.S. Army would accept him. When they finally did, he says he couldn't have been any happier.
"I've gotta say it's been everything I expected," said Hanson.
Just months after enlisting, Hanson learned that his unit would be one of the first to go to Iraq as part of the troop surge ordered by President Bush. When he got there, he says it was unlike anything he'd ever experienced.
"It's difficult," said Hanson. "It's completely different from anything you see around here."
It wasn't much easier on his family. In Baghdad, Hanson's time was spent working as a tower guard and patrolling the streets with Iraqi police.
"That sense of fear, the dread is there all the time," said Hoffman.
But a few weeks ago, Hoffman got the call that put her fears to rest. She found out her son was coming home.
"It was a real sense of relief and it's like okay, he's back," said Hoffman.
For Hanson, the big welcome home was just what he needed.
"Being back here with my family is just incredible," said Hanson.
Although he has to report back to his post in North Carolina early next week, Hanson says he's looking forward to a quiet weekend at home.
"I'm going to relax and enjoy Grand Junction," said Hanson.
Hanson and his unit will get to spend a year in the states before being re-deployed overseas.