It was a busy Wednesday afternoon in front of the Archer County courthouse. There were flashing lights, flags, music and a lot of motorcycles.
The Patriot Guard Riders came out in full force to support Lance Corporal Jerod Mankins. The Windthorst native is retuning to Texoma for the first time since being deployed to Afghanistan last August.
Lance Corporal Mankins said, "It's something to come back to, this great family, great tradition, it's definitely great. There's no other feeling like it. I love being here in this area, the town the community I love everything about it."
Lance Corporal Mankins' father made the trip to California in March when his son landed state-side. He said, "We were able to go out when he came back from deployment but to get him back home to town is great."
Lance Corporal Mankins' younger bother Derrick, a Junior at Windthorst High School, wasn't able to make the trip to the West coast. So, his brother arranged for a surprise visit, escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders.
"We're going to see my brother as far as I know he has no clue. It's gonna be something to see him. I haven't seen him in almost a year."
The Patriot Guard led Lance Corporal Mankins, his wife and father in the 11 mile drive to Windthorst High School. When the procession arrived, it didn't take long for Derrick to realize what was happening. He immediately hopped the fence and jumped on the back of one of the bikes.
An excited and surprised Derrick said, "I started running, went about a mile trying to catch up to them but someone finally picked me up. I'm happy, this is the first time I've seen him since he got back from Afghanistan."
Students and teachers outside the school all gathered with the Patriot Guard and Mankins family, all of them happy to have their Marine home.
Mankins' wife of nearly a year, said they got married only a few months before his deployment. She said, "Now that he's home its kind of getting to start all over again. Technically we've almost been married a year but we're really getting to start our year over so we're still in the honeymoon phase of it."