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Victoria husband, father returns home after 11-month tour in Iraq

By JR Ortega
Aug. 31, 2010 at 3:31 a.m.

SFC. Ralph Henry Salas returned to Victoria after an 11-month tour in Baghdad. His duties included recovering excess equipment.

The evidence on Primrose Street was clear Tuesday - one of Victoria's own soldiers was back home.

Signs and flags at SFC Ralph Henry Salas' home welcomed back the Victoria resident, who arrived late Monday night at Victoria Regional Airport after spending 11 months in Baghdad recovering excess equipment for the U.S. Army.

"I'm glad to be home," said Salas Tuesday, as he waited for his wife, Hope Salas, and son Raphael Salas, 10, to come back home from work and school.

In his position, Salas' team recovered more than $112 million worth of equipment from companies that had finished its tour.

Of the $112 million, about $55 million was put back into the Army service supply system.

This was Salas' second tour.

His first tour was from 2003 to 2004, he said.

Salas doesn't plan to go back anytime soon.

"My son and I have gotten closer. He wanted to call in sick today," he said laughing.

His wife had to work Tuesday but was excited her husband was back home, she said.

"I guess I'm relieved," said Hope Salas, who works with the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department. "It's kind of like part of the family separates and he comes back, and everything is complete again."

Her husband has several weeks off and then will return to work with the U.S. Post Office as a mail carrier, she said.

She has already asked for several days off to spend time with him in the coming weeks.

Jesse Beams visits relatives across from Salas' house but considers himself a neighbor.

Seeing the signs on the front yard was a great feeling, he said.

"He's a nice guy," he said. "We missed the heck out of him. We thought about him often and sent him cards on Christmas."

His family will welcome his back on Sept, 11. Because his return date kept changing they couldn't set the date

"It's a great feeling to come home and you see all your family waiting for you," he said. "My heart was content because it's nice to see people who love you and when you show up they're there."

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