GJ soldier home from Afghanistan

Spc Troy Bunce gets hugs from friends and family after getting into GJ Regional airpor.

For at least one area family, the celebration of the new year got under way well after midnight, as they welcomed one of their own home New Year’s Day after more than five months’ duty in Afghanistan.

Family members of Army Spc. Troy Bunce gathered Thursday evening at Grand Junction Regional Airport, anxious to welcome Bunce back to Grand Junction. He arrived home for some extended R-and-R after his first tour of duty in the war in far-off Afghanistan.

“I’m ready. We have 15 days with him, but I’ll take anything with him at this point.” said T.J. Wagner, Bunce’s mother.

“We’re going to let him do anything that he wants to. He wants to go snowboarding, he wants to go to Glenwood. It’s going to be a lot of just seeing him, and absorbing it,” she said.

Bunce, a 21-year-old Grand Junction native, is a radio-telegraph operator stationed at Camp Blessing in eastern Afghanistan. His mother said his job is to maintain radio contact with the helicopters as they depart from the base, among other duties.

While Bunce isn’t necessarily on the front lines, the worry for his well-being by his family is persistent, as is the danger of the soldiers’ mission. Though she talks often with her son on the phone from the camp, it’s no substitute for having him home.

“The phone calls have been nice, but I want to actually touch him! I want to make sure that he’s OK, because when he’s over there, you worry so much,” Wagner said. “You wonder, is he eating right? How’s he sleeping? How’s he doing? And then there’s the fact that they’re shooting at him.”

Wagner said that when she does talk with her son on the phone, he’s always interested in what’s happening back home in Grand Junction. He also says Afghanistan strangely reminds him of home.

“When you look out, you see the mountains, and it’s almost like this could be Grand Junction,” Wagner quotes Bunce as saying.

After a little more than two weeks in the states, Bunce will head back to Afghanistan to finish his tour, which began this past July.

And as spending time with family, including a basset hound named Copper, will be high on Bunce’s list of things to do, Wagner said there’s one place he’s sure to visit while he’s back in the states: McDonald’s. He misses fast food, his mom said.


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