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Troy Chancey knows there's no place like home.
After a year of being shot at and interrogating enemy combatants in Afghanistan, the 22-year-old Army specialist admits being back in the relatively slow pace of Chiefland is a little strange. But life in the states is something he looks forward to getting used to again.
"I wanna' do a lot of the things I missed out on," Chancey said Friday from the home of his grandparents Janice and Buster.
Chancey, who came back to the states June 23, was on a plane to boot camp right out of Chiefland High School in 2008. Joining the service was something he said he always knew he wanted to do.
Chancey, who also spent eight months in Iraq in 2009, said the military is not always the easiest way for a person to spend his or her late teens and early twenties, but he said he's glad he went.
"You get to meet people, You get to travel. And you form a bond most people don't get to experience (because) you get into situations you wouldn't get into over here."
He said his time in the Army forced him to grow up fast.
"You learn a lot about you as a person, about how to deal with things," he said. "Any adversity makes you grow. Some people shy away from that, but you can't avoid all that and move forward as a person."
Moving forward as a person is something his grandmother can attest to.
"When he left, he was a kid, with kid ideas," she said. "But boy this time he's one heck of a man. He's really grown up, and I'm proud."
She's also glad he's back in one piece.
As an intelligence collector, a big part of what Chancey did was working to get information out of people.
"Its a little weird sittin' across from someone who was shootin' at you yesterday," Chancey said. "But people are the same everywhere. It's not hard to talk to people, to get them to tell you what they know."
Chancey, who was stationed at Command Outpost Nerkh in Afghanistan's Wardak Province, said there were times when he had to talk to some "pretty bad dudes."
"You just deal with it. It's my job. It's what I get paid to do," is how he said he dealt with the experience.
And while the Army may have fast-tracked Chancey to maturity, he said he knows there's a bigger purpose to it all.
"We have a way of life here. America is the greatest country in the world. I think protecting that way of life is the greatest thing anyone can do."
And people have been supportive, he said. After his month-long debriefing at Fort Hood, in Texas, Chancey flew to Georgia to visit with his father and step-family before coming to Chiefland. At the airport there, he was greeted by hundreds of people thanking him for his service. Chancey was quoted in a local newspaper article as being "extremely overwhelmed" and at a loss for words.
"I got to the airport, and they had like 200 or 300 hundred people," Chancey said Friday. "It's a feeling everybody should experience at least once."
Many of the people greeting him were Vietnam veterans, he said. "They didn't get that when they came home. I think that's pretty sad."
Nowadays, people thank you before you go, he said, and they thank you when you get back. But, Chancey said, what often matters more is the feeling of appreciation soldiers get from phone calls, letters and packages while they are oversees.
"Talking to family is one of the most important things," he said. There are plenty of times soldiers have to go without showers or food, but communication with family and friends in imperative.
"As long as there's someone to complain to, everything feels better."
But Chancey wasn't complaining Friday. He's glad to be home with his family in the small town he spent the latter part of his childhood in. The things and people he knew when he left haven't changed much, he said.
"Growing up in a small town is good. There's a sense of community. Everybody knows everybody. Even the loners get included. You grow up a little slower, which is good."
Officially out of the Army, Troy said he's not sure what his next step will be, though he's pretty sure he wants to take some college classes to get a feel for what kind of career might suit him best.