After facing several months living in a tense, stressful and war-like environment, no one can understand how good it feels to return home like a soldier.

Such is the case for Palestine Marine Aaron Hauck, who returned to the United States Saturday after serving a second and final stint in Iraq.

“It feels nice to be back home,” he said. “It was almost like I never left — like nothing changed.”

Hauck served in the 2-7 Marine Division in Fallujah for seven months, driving 7-Ton and Humvees that transported chow and supplies to other camps for his line company.

“We had some interaction with the Iraqi army and citizens,” Hauck said about his experiences there. “They are basically just like Americans, they just speak a different language.”

Hauck also reported that living conditions were consistently improving in the country — even for the American soldiers staying in the area.

“I did get to shower every day and we stayed in abandoned Iraqi buildings,” he said. “It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.”

He also said that Americans have some big misconceptions about what is going on in Iraq. “Most people think it is still bad over there, but it is getting better as time goes by,” he said. “The army and police there are doing what they are supposed to do to secure the country.

“It is becoming more and more civilized than what people think.”

Hauck, a 2002 Westwood High School graduate, joined the Marines Feb. 17, 2003. His first stint in Iraq was from March to August 2005.

“I probably won’t be going back to Iraq,” he said. “I will finish out my service over the next year at Camp Pendleton and then go to college to study art and advertising.”

Hauck reported spending his 27-day leave visiting with friends and family. Upon his arrival Saturday, his family celebrated his homecoming by taking him out to dinner.

Hauck is the son of Palestine’s Richard and Robin Hauck. Richard Hauck works in the Wal-Mart Distribution Center machine shop and Robin Hauck works for the Texas Board of Parole.

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Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at mrainwater@palestineherald.com

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