National guardsman home for the holidays

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - As Michael Belk said Thanksgiving grace with his family Thursday afternoon, he had a lot to be thankful for. Belk said, "I'm thankful to be home. Thankful to be alive. Thankful to spend time with family and friends and see my little girl." Belk is a specialist with the Army National Guard and is currently serving a one year tour in Iraq.

The Calera soldier came home for two weeks of rest and relaxation just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving, his 23rd birthday and his daughter, Kelsey's 2nd birthday. "I thought God couldn't have given a better gift," said Brenda Faircloth, Belk's mother.

Belk will return to Iraq on December 4th, Kelsey's birthday. Even while spending time with her and other family members, serving overseas is never far from his mind. He is always mindful of what it means for his child. "As long as I'm over there, they're not going to be over here," Belk said. "So that makes me feel like she's safe being over here."

He says he looks forward to returning to Iraq because the quicker he goes back, the quicker he can return home. His mother keeps a war time flag and candle burning in her window. She says it will remain there until he is home for good.