The Roundhouse in Marshalltown is usually the venue for basketball but this weekend it’ll host soldiers and their families. Flags are flying on downtown light poles as Marshalltown’s one of the three cities in Iowa welcoming home Company “C” of the 234th Signal Battalion of the Iowa National Guard. Ceremonies will be at one o’clock at the Marshalltown high-school gymnasium and at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, and at 2-30 at Clinton High School. The 350 members of the unit were called to active duty in March 2003. They’ve spent this week at Fort Riley, Kansas, but return to their families on Saturday. The National Guard’s Colonel Robert King says the buses leave Fort Riley, where the soldiers have been demobilized.When the buses arrive Saturday, he says the soldiers will get off and march into their venues for short ceremonies — about 30 minutes and then they’ll be released to go home with their families. The troops returning this weekend are part of the 234th Signal Battalion. Their work is communications support and in this case they provided cellular communications in the theatre of operations, working with some “pretty high-level headquarters over there” making sure everybody could talk to each other that needed to. Colonel King says Iowa’s still heavily involved in the global war on terrorism.These 350 returning home takes the number of Iowans down to about 1,800 on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and some more in Kosovo, with another group preparing right now in Fort Hood, Texas, to go to the region. In addition to the returning guard troops, Company B of the 389th Engineering Battalion of the Army Reserve also returns to hometowns in Decorah, Davenport, Muscatine, Iowa City and Middletown.
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