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OREM -- The Christmas season is special for many Utahns, especially for a St. George man who made it home in time for Christmas after serving with the "Triple Deuce" Army unit in Iraq.
The unit expected to be in Iraq for a year, but the deployment was cut short when President Barack Obama ordered troops out of the country. And for Todd Allen, a member of the Triple Deuce unit, being home for Christmas with his family is the best gift he could receive.
"I just enjoy my time I'm here with them," Allen said about spending time at home with his family. "I'm excited, yes."
Last month, Allen was in Iraq, with six months left until he was expected to return home.
"When they said we were coming home at this time of the year to make Christmas, and then plus to be home for my son's birthday, excited, yes," Allen said.
Not only was Allen home in time for Christmas, he made it back with a week to spare for his son Taron's 10th birthday, which was last Thursday.
"It's been a while ever since I've seen my dad," Taron said. "He's been in the Army."
The past deployment was Allen's second time in Iraq with the Triple Deuce, with more than a year and a half of his life spent in another country. Sometime, it takes Allen a minute to remember he's back home in St. George.
For my children, for this great nation, it's a privilege. It's actually an outstanding honor and a privilege to stand up and say I will protect and serve my country.
"I went to my uncle's auto body shop and just sat there for a second, and something, a big bang went off," Allen said. "I jumped, you know?"
Most of all, Allen said he's happy to be home for Christmas with his family. Thinking about them is what got him through some of the toughest days over in Iraq.
"For my children, for this great nation, it's a privilege," Allen said. "It's actually an outstanding honor and a privilege to stand up and say I will protect and serve my country."
Allen's mother, Joanne Allen, knows all about family sacrifice. Her father, husband and five of her boys all served in the military.
"I'm very aware of the casualties of war," Joanne Allen said. "And my heart goes out to those families that have lost."
In the meantime, the Allen family is glad to spend Christmas together. Although Todd Allen could someday be deployed to Afghanistan, he said he is not even thinking about that; right now he's just focusing on his family.