By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - West Texans gave heroes a big welcome. Several injured troops flew in to the Tall City this week and on Thursday, the streets were packed with folks from across the Basin who came to say thanks. The 6th Annual Show of Support banquet filled up the Horseshoe Arena.
25 injured troops rode into the Tall City for the Show of Support celebration - each bringing with them a unique background.
"I was injured in a 7 ton rollover during my second tour in Iraq," Sgt. Michael Owens with the U.S. Marine Corps, said.
"I was in the Army - yesterday was my last day," Staff Sgt. Bobby Rutherford, said. "I've been in for 7 1/2 years. I'm stationed in Ft. Hood. I did two tours in Iraq."
"It's the worst feeling in the world to watch your boys go without you," Robert Cauthon with the U.S. Marine Corps, said.
And they were met by hundreds of West Texans who lined the streets and sat on shoulders to catch a glimpse of the heroes.
"People are really invested in making him feel like a hero," Courtney Cauthon, Wife of U.S. Marine Robert Cauthon, said. "The hero that he is."
For many, it was an emotional outpouring.
"Texans really open their arms to Veterans," Sgt. Owens said. "Especially here in Midland. When we got here, the welcome we got - I saw little old ladies crying and little kids waving at you. It really hits your heart."
The parade, parties, and banquet took others by surprise.
"It was all surprises!" Casey Rutherford, Wife of Staff Sgt. Bobby Rutherford, said. "I didn't know what to expect."
"Everybody I've talked to has said, 'You had a good time? Well you ain't seen nothing yet!' So I'm like, man, how can you out due what we've already had?" Sgt. Owens said.
But the celebration isn't just for the troops. Organizers made certain - their families were not forgotten.
"Today they surprised us and took us to the salon, we got our hair done," Casey Rutherford said.
And even several of the servicemen NewsWest 9 spoke with are now hoping to call West Texas home.
"We had a couple job offers since I've been here," Cauthon said. "We might be moving to the area!"
"It was awesome! Really awesome! I'm going to move here!" Sgt. Owens said.
Thursday night marked the Show of Support' banquet's sixth year. On Friday, the troops will head out for an all-expenses paid white tail deer hunt. This year, West Texas is honoring more troops than ever before and by the end of the year, they will have honored a total of 50 injured servicemen.