Backing home after 40 years of absence

A former U.S. Army sergeant who deserted his squad and defected to North Korea 40 years ago returned on Tuesday to the quiet sycamore-lined streets of his native &to=http:// ' target=_blank>North Carolina, where some residents denounced him as a traitor.

Charles Robert Jenkins flew from Japan with his wife and daughters to &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Washington Dulles International Airport, his first steps on American soil in more than 40 years.

Relatives drove them in a red passenger van to Jenkins' sister's home in tiny Weldon, North Carolina, where his 91-year-old mother waited.

Now 65 and slightly stooped, Jenkins wore a gray suit and a broad smile as he climbed the steps of the two-story brick home. He said "Of course" he was glad to be home and that it felt "very good" to be back in North Carolina, tells Reuters.

The News and Observer reports that Jenkins talked to reporters briefly from the porch of his sister's house. He said that he felt "very good" to be in his native state and that he planned to stay for about a week.

Jenkins' mother, now 91, is living in a nursing home in Roanoke Rapids.

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