Community welcomes Torres home
PLANO — Paul Torres is home – for now, anyway.
“It feels good to see green again,” the Plano man said, adding that all he’s seen for the past 15 months is dirt.
Torres, a U.S. Navy petty officer first class, was given a surprise welcome home on Friday, Aug. 24 when 50 members of the Warrior Watch Riders escorted him to a reception at the Leon Burson American Legion Post 395 in Plano.
One of the riders, Rob Halvax of Shabbona, presented Torres with special beads and a challenge coin, symbolizing his duty to the country.
“I am overwhelmed,” Torres told the crowd that gathered in front of the building, admitting that he wasn’t expecting the ride or the reception. “I have a knot in my throat. I’m trying to hold back the tears.”
Torres finished his brief remarks by thanking the Lord for seeing him home safely, as well as looking over his family while he was gone.
Torres was returning from a 500-day tour of duty in Afghanistan. A 21-year member of the Navy and the reserves, he said he may be retiring in six months. The only thing that could delay his plans, he said, is if he should get promoted to chief petty officer, and then he will stay in service for two more years. Otherwise, he’ll be out in February.
Torres said the promotion is under review and he should know the Navy’s decision, as well as his own fate, in a couple of weeks.
Although he’s home now, Torres said he doesn’t know if he may be deployed overseas again before his career is over.
“They spent a long time training us,” he said.
Originally from Aurora, Torres and his family moved to Plano seven years ago.
Maria Torres, his wife, said she felt very grateful for the turnout and all the support they’ve had since her husband was deployed. They have three children.
“It’s been a good experience for him,” she said.
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