Six Iowa Air Guard pilots and their commander are back on home soil after serving in Kuwait for the past five months. Chief Warrant Officer Bud Truman, the unit’s commander, says the hardest part of the mission was being separated from their families. The group was stationed at Camp Doha in Kuwait to ferry troops and supplies around the region. Larry Arenholz of Urbandale, one of the returning pilots, says it was quite an experience.Arenholz says the camp was designed for 12-hundred soldiers, but has over 12-thousand today. Arenholz says now that he’s back, he’s “not going to stand in any more lines” and he “will not go to any porta-potty ever again.” Another pilot, Ron Snyder of Marshalltown, was contemplative about returning to Iowa. Snyder says during yesterday’s warm, sunny afternoon his kids were swinging in the yard and the robins were “chirping in the trees,” and he thought “how peaceful it is here.” Snyder says that’s why the troops are over in Iraq, to try to keep it peaceful here. Pilot Kyle Thurston of Polk City says it wasn’t a favorite meal but his family that he missed.Thurston says his three-year-old has been stuck to his leg for the past two days because he’s so happy he’s home. Pilot Ed Stettin of Ames says the folks he met overseas support the mission. Stettin says despite what you hear on TV and radio, the people of Iraq and Kuwait “are happy to have us over there and they know the cause is just.” Sergeant Ted Bohn (bonn) of Dubuque says it’s good to be back. Bohn says it was an experience he’ll never forget, and he’ll be proud to have been a “part of maintaining our freedom.” Truman, the commander, says there were 30 attempted Scud missile attacks during their stay at Doha, and he now loves the sound of a Patriot missile sent to knock down those Scuds.Iowa National Guard deputy adjutant general Mark Zirkelbach welcomed the troops home during a ceremony at the Guard’s STARC Armory in Johnston. Zirkelbach says these are the first Iowa soldiers to return from duty in this conflict, and he hopes all soldiers serving are able to return safely. Zirkelbach says the U.S. military is standing taller today than it every has in history. Zirkelbach says today’s a “proud day” for the Iowa Guard. Zirkelbach says the United States is the most powerful nation on Earth because of the service of citizens like these men who returned from active duty.
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