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Back on solid waste route after year in Afghanistan
Jason Mullings is back on the job as a solid waste driver for the City of Manteca after serving a year in Afghanistan. - photo by HIME ROMERO

National Guardsman Jason Mullings is back from Afghanistan. Mullings said he couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of his Manteca city refuse truck, after stopping first at the Red Robin Restaurant.

He said he had such a hunger for meat that he just couldn’t wait any longer, explaining that what he had eaten on base was difficult to recognize whether it was actually meat or something else.

“I was itching for a tri-tip sandwich – real meat – I wanted Red Robbin pretty bad,” he said, as he detoured off of the highway on his drive home.

“I’ve been back for two days driving the refuse truck. I love it. I’m glad to be back,” he said.

His fellow workers have shown that they have missed him as well including his boss Rexie LeStrange. His third day driving his truck was Saturday morning starting at 5 a.m. with the familiar roar of its engine.

Mullings, 27, spent just under a year driving a tow truck wrecker with his transportation unit from Oroville and serving as a mechanic out of a forward operating base in the western part of the Far East country.

“I saw a ton of action. They said we saw more action than most of the infantry units. I don’t wish that place on anybody,” he said. “Anything that broke down, blew up or stopped running, I recovered it and brought it back to the base.”

Mullings said there was always a constant threat of something happening, so you never let down your guard. He carried two weapons with him at all times wherever he went whether it was to the bathroom or driving his wrecker.

He intentionally kept his homecoming a secret, except from his wife Shaylee, in order to surprise the rest of his family including his children Melissa, 8, and son Logan, 5, parents Jewell (Julie) Wyrsch and John Mullings and his grandparents, Arnold and Frencelle Mullings.

“I surprised everybody, because no one knew I was coming home. My mom, she freaked out. I had someone ask her to come over and I was hiding in the living room and she freaked – it was cool,” he chuckled.

His mother said she had no idea he was home because he had been texting her, supposedly from Afghanistan.

“I went to his house because they said the grandkids wanted to show me something. I thought they had gotten a new cat or something, and there he was in the living room. I cried and just hugged him and wouldn’t let him go,” she remembered.

“He was real thin because he didn’t eat very well when he was there, but we did send him care packages,” she added. “I had wanted to go to the airport and see him come off the plane when it landed in Sacramento.”

Mullings then called his dad on his cell phone, who also thought he was still overseas.

“I said why you don’t come by the house. I was standing out in the front yard when he got there – it was a pretty good shocker,” he said.

The 2003 Manteca High grad said he flew an American flag on his tow truck every day with a plan in mind.

“I presented it to my Grandfather Arnold Mullings after I got home and it was a pretty touching moment, because he had been in World War II,” he said.

“I’m glad I experienced it, but I don’t want to go back. My term is up – I have done my six years.”