TREMONT - Well-wishers joined friends and family in giving a warm homecoming to a soldier who came home to The Bronx today after seven years and three tours in Iraq.

Sgt. Douglas Brown's mother, Shirley Meredith, whose birthday is next week, says this is the best gift she could have ever received, and looks forward to having her son home for the holidays. "I'm glad for him to be here for Christmas," says Meredith. "He's missed a lot of Christmases."

Brown says it feels good to be home and appreciates all the gratitude and kindness from his neighbors, including one who hung a banner welcoming him back. He plans on making the most of his time home before he leaves for Afghanistan in January.