Local Soldier Back From Iraq Goes Back to Work

Charles Clark returned to work at Sanderson Farms a little earlier than he, his family and his colleagues expected.

The sergeant in the Army National Guard had been deployed to Iraq for a third tour.

"I had about five soldiers that worked directly for me, and we did detainee operations," Clark said.

Not only is Clark a husband and father of two boys, he's also a valued member of the Sanderson Farms team. So for his return to work Monday, the plant was decorated with everything from red, white and blue ceramic chickens to a picture of Clark's platoon.

"You get a tingly feeling going down your back," Clark said. "You're like, 'whoa, all this is for me?"

"Everyone began planning stages upon his return on how we could welcome him home," said Eric Erickson, a division manager, "and obviously, as you can see, he got a great welcome."

Of course, the circumstances weren't exactly normal that he came home to, as his wife had a little to do with his return.

"We had moved -- my wife did -- while I was deployed, and she had tripped over my two-year-old's bicycle and hurt both her arms pretty good," Clark explained.

The military decided to end his third tour a little early so he could care for his ailing wife, and of course, rib her a little after she had long joked that she would take a bat to him to keep him from deploying again.

"I'll be like, 'Well, you didn't have to hit me with a bat. You fell on your own, hurt your own arms,'" Clark says he jokes.

Like with any of their employees that have to take a leave of absence for military service, Sanderson Farms continued Clark's salary and benefits while he was gone.

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