"This is truly a blessing and I'm just thrilled to be here," said Felecia Shurn, a Meridian native.
Home for the holidays, or at least some of them, Shurn is back in Meridian from Tikrit, Iraq. With her mother for the two week break, this leave of absence is part of the Army's "Rest and Relaxation" initiative.
"Everybody's not going to get a chance to come home," said Shurn. "My number was 23 and they selected that on an order of merit list. I just happened to be number 23. Imagine how it is for #60 and this leave time ends January 10th. Plus, they only send like 3 to 5 from our unit at a time. They won't make it."
While the blast of bombs have become familiar, Felecia says she was actually most frightened in leaving the military camp to return home.
"See, if you have to leave in a convoy or be on the streets anywhere, it's very dangerous. When I say dangerous, I mean Saddam supporters may put something in a Coca-Cola can and as soon as you go by it, it blows up. They can have something in a pothole. They can have a carcass in the middle of the street. This is how we're losing a lot of soldiers and it's sad," the chief warrant officer said.
Set to return to the U.S. in April, Felecia ends her two week break on Wednesday.
Carrying one casual outfit, her uniform, a duffle bag, backpack, and hopefully, a Christmas care package from her family, Felicia will head back to Iraq.