CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital hosted a Walk of Honor flag ceremony Thursday, welcoming home Army Specialist Servando Garcia III.

Garcia, a 2002 graduate of San Diego High School, recently returned home from Afghanistan, and has spent seven tours in that country and in Iraq.

Mark Casanova, director of CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice, thanked Garcia for his service and explained the significance of the hospital’s Walk of Honor program, in which flags are flown for military personnel stationed away from home.

“The flags serve as a constant reminder to each of us that while we enjoy our country’s many privileges and freedoms, there are brave men and women, like Specialist Garcia, who are fighting to protect those freedoms,” Casanova said.

Narciso Gonzalez, a representative of the United Veterans Burial Association, presented the Walk of Honor flag to Garcia Thursday.

“Because of individuals like you who are willing to serve our country, we live in a great country and world. All of us gathered here appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made in serving our country,” Gonzalez said. “We applaud your patriotism and we thank you for your service.”

Garcia also received a flag that was flown in his honor over the Texas Capitol from State Representative Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, and a “Challenge Coin” from City Manager Albert Uresti.

Alice City Council Member Shane Valverde read a proclamation in Garcia’s honor, and also thanked him for his service.

“Specialist Garcia is a fine and prime example of the kind of sacrifice and dedication to duty that our men and women face today,” Valverde said. “We owe him a tremendous debt.”

Marilyn Critari and Sue Harlan, of the Daughters of the American Revolution Smuggler’s Pass chapter, presented Garcia with a Christmas ornament and read a poem in his honor.

Following the ceremony, Garcia said that after serving seven tours overseas, he was glad to be home again.

“I was just ready for some good food,” Garcia said. “I’m ready for a vacation.”

Garcia is expected to conclude his service with the Army in the next few months, and hopes to enter the Department of Public Safety Academy to become a state trooper.

Garcia is the son of Servando and Lydia Garcia and Henri and Rosie Garcia of San Diego.

His father, Servando Garcia II, is a former Marine and said that military service is a family tradition. That tradition includes two of Garcia’s cousins, Jose Amancio Perez II and Ruben Valdez, who have been lost to the war in Iraq.

“It’s not easy. When you see others who have lost their loved ones in war, it’s not easy,” Garcia said. “We thank God he’s fine, but you still feel for the other people who have lost their loved ones.”