As his plane touched down at the airport Friday, Sgt. Christopher Goodwin Sr. of Dawsonville breathed a sigh of relief.
“It felt so good to be home, to be on American soil,” said Goodwin, 38, who has spent the last six months stationed in Afghanistan. “I thanked God I was home.”
Dawson County residents are thankful to have him back as well, and just in time for Veterans Day.
The community’s 5th Annual Veterans Day Celebration begins at 3 p.m. Nov. 11 with a parade through downtown Dawsonville.
A formal ceremony is set for 4 p.m. at Dawson County Middle School, where organizers will pay tribute to veterans and active service members.
A Medivac helicopter will make a flyover to commemorate the occasion.
“Honoring our veterans is what it’s all about. We honor and respect them at this ceremony,” said Pam Hamalainen, president of Veterans Affairs of Dawson County.
The organization puts on the event with the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.
Hamalainen said Goodwin will be a part of the ceremony as a representative of U.S. active military.
A member of the Army National Guard Charlie Co. 1st of the 121st, Goodwin was greeted Friday afternoon by community members at the local chamber of commerce.
He returns Nov. 14 to Gardez, Afghanistan, where he will serve until April.
Until then, he plans to spend some quality time with wife, Kim; son, Chris Jr., 12; and mother, Nevah.
So far, it’s been home sweet home, according to Goodwin.
“It’s been very relaxing,” he said. “We grilled out steaks this weekend, and I’m going to hang out with some buddies of mine sometime soon.”
He said “being with family and eating home-cooked food” are among the comforts he misses most while overseas.
His mother, Nevah, said it’s good to see him, even if for just a couple weeks.
“I’m so happy right now,” she said, hugging him Friday. “I’ve been waiting so long for this.”