Over a dozen welcome-home celebrations are being held around the state for seven-hundred National Guard soldiers who’ve returned from active duty in Afghanistan. One of the first ceremonies was held this (Monday) morning in Davenport. The Brady Street Auditorium was the scene of a rousing salute to nearly 50 members of the Army National Guard returning from rebuilding projects in Afghanistan. National Guard Adjutant General Major Ron Dardis spoke to the members of the 334th Forward Support Battalion and the 834th Engineering Company, and personally thanked them for their commitment to excellence, dedication to duty, sacrifices and willingness to serve. Dardis counted off some of the accomplishments of this large task force. They provided security for elections in Afghanistan, created a safe and secure environment for not only that event, but for the rebuilding. “You prevented the re-emergence and export of terrorism from Afghanistan,” Dardis told the soldiers, adding “history will record that you played an integral part in a new Afghanistan.” Afterward, some of the soldiers talked about their pleasure at being back home in Iowa. One said: “The most exciting thing of being back home is being with my family and friends, being back on the Good Old USA.” Another agreed, saying: “Being able to do what I want to do.” Mobilized in February 2004, the 700-soldier task force compiled from units all over Iowa had arrived in Afghanistan at the end of May 2004 for construction work and security missions.
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