After warning the valley with his lively dispatches from Iraq published in the Idaho Mountain Express July 20 and 22, Spc. Daniel Fierman from the 116th Cavalry Brigade of the Idaho National Guard is back.
"Fourteen days starts tomorrow," he said while marching to the family car Monday armed with a six-pack of Toblerone Swiss chocolate wedges handed to him by his mother, as he finally left the tarmac following two days in transit.
Fierman traveled through Kuwait, Ireland, Newfoundland, Canada, Texas and Salt Lake City before he finally arrived at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey Monday.
"You're all lucky they let us shower in Texas," Fierman said.
Farmed out to the Army's Bravo Company as a Humvee gunner in Kirkuk, Iraq, Fierman has been based at a military compound in the city for the past nine months. A 2003 Wood River High School graduate, he enlisted with the National Guard while he was still in high school.
At the airport dressed in combat fatigues, reminiscent of an imposing but gentle bear, Fierman doled out one-armed hugs to friends and family, lifting each off the ground.
"There's a Marine right there I want to talk to," Fierman called to one of his many friends and family who came to greet him at the airport. "I'm ready to have some fun."
Before leaving the terminal, Fierman insisted that everyone take a look at a portrait he had commissioned in Iraq of himself and some compatriots in the global war on terror.
"It's amazing what $35 in Iraq will get you," he said, unfurling the treasure.
Outside the terminal, Fierman took in a deep breath of the relatively cool mountain air, even at 4 in the afternoon.
"It was 140 degrees, like a blow dryer on sand," he said, referring to the weather in the Middle East.
His father, Nathan Fierman, snapped away with his camera to document the homecoming, clearly happy to see his son in the peak of health.
"He's so skinny," said his mother, Susan, giving her son a third hug since he got off the Delta flight from Salt Lake City.