ELKO - Elko native and U.S. Army Spc. Nicole Carlos was welcomed home with open arms Saturday at a potluck and ceremony to honor her for her military service.
Carlos, 24, served one year in Iraq's al Anbar province and was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas before returning to her hometown Friday to visit family and friends. She is scheduled to leave for a second deployment to northern Iraq sometime next month, she said.
Carlos is a member of the Army's 97th Military Police Battalion. Her first Iraq deployment was as a military police officer. A big part of her service overseas was training Iraqi police so they can protect the country without American assistance, she said.
“Being there for a year, you can only do so much,” Carlos said. “As far as the big picture goes, we made a lot of progress.”
Carlos' next deployment will be as a dog handler, looking for explosives and narcotics - which she said is a problem in Iraq.
Carlos, who has served five years in the Army, said it is “always nice to come home.”
She said serving in the military is something she wanted to do since she was a kid.
“Look at how many people have done it before,” Carlos said. “How can you not want to be a part of that?”
Many hugs were shared along with home-cooked food. Representatives from the POW/MIA Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Elko County led the ceremony.
Carlos choked back tears, thanking her family and attendees for their support. The ceremony included a group prayer for her.