After a seven-hour flight delay, only Joe Bacon waited at Baltimore-Washington International Airport to welcome his son, Spec. Dwayne M. Bacon, home from six months duty in the Persian Gulf.

"I didn't need a special welcome home," said the 23-year-old Army motor vehicle repairman Monday. "I was proud to be among those who served in the war."

Bacon, a member of the 3rd Armored Division, took on the Iraqi Republican Guard when the ground war broke out, he said. While never fired on, the unit was constantly on the alert for sniper fire.

"We barely got any sleep during the four days it took to move our convoy into Iraq," he said. "I drove a fuel tanker, hauling 1,200 gallons ofdiesel fuel.

That job earned the title of "suicide jockeys" for the drivers and the men who rode "shotgun," carrying semiautomatic rifles and scanning the desert for snipers.

"All I wanted to do was get through with the job there and come home," he said.

Bacon was deployed to the gulf Dec. 27. Frequently, mail did not catch up to hisconstantly moving unit.

"At first, we didn't realize how much support there was for us," he said. "When the newspapers finally caught up with us and we heard about the rallies on the radio, it really helped."

Bacon will be home for about 30 days before rejoining his unit in Hannau, Germany. He plans visits with his father, a retired Army sergeant, and four brothers, three of whom also are in the service.

After six months of desert living during which temperatures regularly soared to 120 degrees, he said he's looking forward to air conditioning and home-cooked meals, especially fried chicken and lemon meringue pie.

"We had one food shortage for about two weeks, where weonly had freeze dried meals," he said. "Believe me, it doesn't kick your taste buds any."

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