Soldier from Long Island gets hero's welcome

There was a warm welcoming party ready for the return of a soldier from Selden
April 4, 2014 3:24:10 AM PDT
A soldier from Long Island was welcomed home Thursday night with a touching tribute and a huge homecoming surprise party upon his return from a war zone.

The conflicts involving U.S. troops don't always make the front pages anymore like they once did, but there are thousands still serving all over the world.

And when they return home, they deserve to be welcomed back. It's a sentiment not lost on the Selden community or Army Specialist Jay Matthews, who arrived to a hero's welcome at MacArthur Airport after nearly a year serving in the Middle East.

"It's unreal," Matthews said. "I told my dad I didn't want anybody but him and my girlfriend here, but I knew that wasn't going to happen."

Because of sensitive operations, Eyewitness News can't say where Matthews served. But for him, it doesn't matter. Home has always been his destination.

And among the crowd of greeters were fellow firefighters with the Selden Fire Department, as well as Boots on the Ground, an organization that greets all returning members of the military.

"We have all our equipment, most of our members," Selden Fire Chief Joseph Leavens said. "We have the Boots on the Ground escorting us home. And we're going to get him back to town, welcome him home."

Also in the crowd of 100 was Matthews' girlfriend.

"It feels amazing to have him home," she said. "I wanna kiss him."

The celebration continued at the Selden Fire Department well into the night.

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