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Zion soldier returns from tour in Afghanistan

Army Specialist Darryl Grant Jr. (center) Ziis hugged by his mother Shirley next his younger brother Prentiss (right) father Darryl

Army Specialist Darryl Grant Jr. (center) of Zion is hugged by his mother Shirley next to his younger brother Prentiss (right) and father Darryl after Grant returned home on Friday following a 10-month tour in Afghanistan. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 22, 2012 1:27AM

U.S. Army Spec. Darryl Grant could hear his mother, Shirley, before he saw her as he walked up the driveway of her home on Hebron Avenue in Zion Friday afternoon.

“She met me outside. I could hear her before I could see her. She came up and gave me a big hug and held me tight,” he said, “She told me she loved me.”

Grant was glad to be home for the holidays. This year was the first time he had ever missed a family reunion over the summer.

“I just missed the whole family a lot,” he said.

He had been home for some rest and recreation for 15 days back in August during his 10-month tour in Afghanistan’s Logar Province supporting detainee operations as a military police officer with the 822nd MP Company.

“It’s like corrections. We had a lot of contact with local nationals,” he said.

They were stationed up in the mountains. “They really are beautiful. At this time of year you get snow on the top of the mountains and the sun is shining. It’s beautiful, but I’m glad I’m home with my family,” he said.

Things were not too intense there, although “a couple times a week we would get rocketed. But the whole unit made it home and I’m just glad everyone made it home safely,” he said.

His high school girlfriend Kenuu Jate White of Zion met him in Arlington Heights where his unit is based, along with his brother, Prentiss, and sister, Monique. His other brother Dwayne is in Texas for work and couldn’t make it. His mother and father, Darryl, stayed at home to wait for him.

He is at the halfway point in his career with the Army after serving three years. He gets a month off and then he goes back to reserve duty where he reports in once a month for training.

“I joined right out of high school for some of the financial benefits of the army and to serve my country and try to do something to help people,” he said.

Friday his mom made his favorite meal: fried chicken, rice and broccoli. “It’s one of my favorite meals. We’ll probably just sit around and watch some movies,” he said.

But he can’t do that for too long. His girlfriend has reminded him that he owes her quite a few dates.

“She reminds me of that all the time,” he said with a laugh.

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