MARICOPA, Ariz. -- Private First Class Coral Heazlit of Maricopa didn’t expect a surprise hero’s welcome home Friday night, which stretched down her street and across her community.
Maricopa firefighters drove her into her neighborhood aboard a fire engine, as dozens of loved ones, neighbors, community members and city leaders lined the road to thank her for her service.
“You have no idea how much I missed her,” Bill Heazlit said while hugging his daughter as she stepped off the fire truck.
PFC Heazlit cried tears of happiness as she saw her family and friends for the first time in nearly a year.
“Thank you guys for coming out and supporting me,” she told the crowd.
She returned home just in time for the holiday weekend after 10 months in Afghanistan.
“To see her in front of me, I said, ‘it’s like Christmas 100 times over,'” said mom Wendy Heazlit. “She’s in army intelligence. There’s so much she can’t tell me, so I never really knew. I’m just glad she’s home safe.”
“You don’t even know how proud I am,” said Bill Heazlit. “I’m so happy she’s home. I’ve missed her so much. I’m so proud of what she’s done for our country.”
Friday’s special celebration was organized by military moms Lisa Durst and Tracy Davis. Davis’s son hasn’t yet returned home.
“I’m living vicariously through this soldier’s homecoming because I don’t know when my son will be home,” said Davis.
Davis and Durst, who are working to establish a local chapter of Blue Star moms, made a habit of sending care packages to PFC Heazlit and other Maricopa troops serving overseas.
Heazlit said those care packages helped her through her deployment, as well as all of the love and support from home.
“It’s so overwhelming. I’m so happy everyone is supporting me right now,” said PFC Heazlit.