About 450 Iowa soldiers who fought sandstorms for the past eight months were headed home yesterday when a snow storm diverted their flight from Waterloo to Des Moines. The troops had to climb aboard buses to make it to the UNI-Dome for a welcome home ceremony. Major Gregory Hapgood, spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, says it’s been a good relationship in getting the ceremony organized.More than two-thousand family members and friends eagerly awaited the soldiers’ arrival, including Joe Obermeyer, whose son was among those coming home. Obermeyer says it was a “lot better turnout” than for welcome home ceremonies from recent wars, and he says he appreciates the support for what his son and the other soldiers have been doing. Sue Engelking was there to see her son. Her son’s been to Iraq, Germany and now Egypt on his deployments. Engelking says the family “is so glad he’s back in the states.” She says she’s grown especially grateful for cell phones and e-mail, which let her keep in touch with her son while he was overseas. The Iowa National Guard’s 133rd Task Force was mobilized last May and provided security and other peacekeeping functions along the boundary between Israel and Egypt. The soldiers in the task force came from units based in Waterloo, Dubuque, Charles City, Iowa Falls, Hampton, Oelwein, Fairfield and Johnston. About 40 soldiers were from western Iowa’s Company C, First Battalion, 168th Infantry were welcomed home yesterday at a ceremony at the Denison armory.
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