Published - April, 3, 2006
Family happy to have Marine home
Amy Sowder

Lance Cpl. Matthew Hollis received much more than his long-sought-after daily shower in America after seven months of patrolling Iraq.

Hollis, 19, a Marine with "To Sacrifice" tattooed in Arabic on his muscled forearm, returned to his Cantonment home this weekend to see American flags, yellow bows and balloons in front of almost 300 houses in his Copper Forest Estates neighborhood.

"(Iraq) was weird," he told a neighbor who is about to enter military service. "And it was just straight-out hot. When you open an oven door, it's just like that."

More than 100 neighbors, friends and family surrounded Hollis and listened to his stories at a Sunday afternoon homecoming picnic.

"It was difficult having him over there, not knowing if he would come back," said his sister, Hannah, 16. "He's kind of my best friend."

But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Hollis knew he wanted to defend his country.

Neighbors Andy and Donna Roddenbery said they were glad that the Hollises have their son back.

They, too, have a son in the Marines who also was in Iraq and expect to see him in two weeks.

"To have him back, that to me is something to be grateful for," Donna Roddenbery said about Hollis. "It brings the neighborhood together."

Hollis plans to return to his base in North Carolina in May.