Even for a welcome-home ceremony, this one was a special event. Monday evening Des Moines rush-hour traffic tangled with a cavalcade of firetrucks as they headed to Camp Dodge to welcome home members of a firefighting brigade from the Persian Gulf region. One was driven by firefighter and Des Moines fire-department spokesman Brian O’Keefe. He counted two fire chiefs in their cars, four firetrucks, four ambulances, the 132nd Air Guard and a “tech rescue rig.” They lit up Merle Hay Road, he said, waiting to merge onto the interstate and join buses arriving with troops from the 10-88th Personnel Personnel Services Detachment which provided administrative services, and the 767th which performed firefighting and emergency-response services during their active duty. O’Keefe says he went into a convenience store where people looked at him funny, so the firefighter said “You’re in no immediate danger,” laughed and left. He says firefighters also came with their ladder trucks and other gear from Ames, Ankeny, Altoona, Grimes, Johnston, Dallas Center and Radcliff for the welcoming ceremony, because most of the members of the 767th are also civilian firefighters. O’Keefe says he was in one of the two rigs that came out from a fulltime paid department — most of the returning soldiers work in civilian life with volunteer firefighting agencies. O’Keefe’s in the Iowa National Guard and did a rotation in Iraq himself that ended in 2003. O’Keefe says there’s some pride in escorting the soldiers home in a firetruck, admitting “you don’t get that kind of response driving a pest-control truck.”