It's been over a year since Bill Underwood has stepped foot in his home in Albemarle County. The soldier, sergeant with the Albemarle County Police Department, spent over a year in Iraq with the army reserves. He patrolled streets around Baghdad and searched for roadside bombs.
"When we would be out patrolling we'd get attacked often by insurgents. Enemy forces would be on rooftops and fire rocket-propelled grenades at us; they would shoot mortar rounds," said Sgt. Underwood.
In fact, Underwood suffered injuries from shrapnel when a grenade exploded.
His wife, Jennifer, knew the dangers her husband faced. The couple had only been married for about a year when Underwood was deployed.
"The only part for me that was really hard was not knowing if he was going to come home or not," said Jennifer.
The Underwoods made it through the tough year with support from the community and family, along with a special way of staying connected. The soldier used his debit card to buy little things so his wife knew he was still ok. Although he could not tell her where he was located while overseas, she kept track of his location by reading the debit card bill each month.
Now, Sgt. Underwood is definitely okay being back at home and he's spreading the word about all the positive things happening in Iraq. He says there's more to it than just attacks and deaths.
"Once you get outside of the Baghdad area and the Sunni Triangle there's amazing things happening in Iraq. People have running water, they have actual sewer systems now that they haven't had in many years. Kids are being able to go to school, people are going back to work. The whole rest of the country is doing wonderfully," said Underwood.
Underwood says he's very proud he got the opportunity to serve his country, but this hometown hero is also very glad to be back home.
Underwood will return to the Albemarle PD in several weeks.