FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WPMI) - A soldier's family received the ultimate Christmas present. A city got its hero. Mostly, mother got her son back from war.
Sgt. Eric Wintzell returned to a swarm of family and friends outside the Fairhope Municipal Center Thursday after 274 days away from home. It was his second tour in Afghanistan. His mother, Tamara, was the first person to greet him as he stepped out of his truck.
"I love you too," he said embracing his mother. Holding him so tightly, she didn't look up, rather asked him if he was crying. "Yeah," he said. So was everyone else. The soldier thought the homecoming would be modest with his mother, best friend, and girlfriend. He had no clue he would get the welcome of a city until he pulled up.
"It's amazing to see what she would do for me and the length that she would go to even do something like this," he said of his mother's plan, "I know this wasn't easy for her to plan all of this so it reminds me she never forgets about me; very grateful to have a mother like that."
"We're just so blessed to have him back home," Tamara Wintzell said.