It's been nearly a year since Gail and Nick Bertagna have been able to wrap their arms around their son Greg. So seeing him back home in Chico is a dream come true. Gail says, "To see him moving and not a still picture on facebook was just fantastic." Nick says, "I was just as proud as a dad can be."
Nearly 100 friends, family, and local veterans packed into the Chico Airport Thursday night, to welcome him home. "I didn't realize how much people cared until I walked off the plane and saw everybody there. It was really something," Greg says.
The 26-year-old Chico High graduate has been in Afghanistan for the past 8 months and stationed in Japan for nearly four years. And after it took roughly two weeks to make it back to the north state from Afghanistan, his family says having him home for Christmas is truly a dream come true. Gail says, "It's the best present anybody could have!" "Hearing his laughter and his jokes and just also giving back to him and expressing to him how grateful we are for the service he's done for our country," Greg's sister Nicole says.
Bertagna won't be returning to Afghanistan, but is scheduled to return to Okinawa in a week and a half to finish the remainder of his service. So for now, this family has a lot to celebrate this Christmas and enjoy each moment they have together. Greg says, "Just spend time with family and friends and just enjoy the time I have here." Greg's 6 year old niece Madeline says, "He's my uncle and he's really special to me and I'm glad that he's home."