Another group of part-time soldiers called to active duty in Iraq has returned home to Iowa, and a member of the Iowa Senate is among them. State Senator Chuck Larson, Junior, of Cedar Rapids is a JAG — a lawyer in the Reserve. Larson was called to active duty in November of 2003 and — except for a two-week leave last fall — he’s been in Iraq since last February. His wife, Jennifer, greeted him when he got off the bus in Des Moines.”I’m happy to have him home in one piece.” The Larsons then told reporters some big news — they’re expecting a baby in late July. “God has doubly blessed us,” Chuck Larson said. “Today is the beginning of a new life, an exciting new life with a brand new baby on the way.”Larson also told reporters he loved the feel of the cold air when he got off that bus. “After having lived in 140 degree weather for so many months, it’s nice to be home,” Larson says. “The crunch of the snow beneath my feet — it’s a good feeling.” Larson will be formally released from duty on Thursday and will return to his job as a voting member of the Iowa Senate afterwards. “I’m looking forward to returning and to serving in the Iowa Legislature and I thank the people of Iowa who were kind enough to allow me to leave and serve, and to both the republican and democrat legislators who picked up the slack in my abscence and got the job done,” Larson says. Larson helped spearhead a fund drive for Iraqis.Over $100,000 worth of school and medical supplies were collected from Americans in 25 states, but Larson says the bulk of that money came from Iowans. The soldiers sorted the stuff into packets which they distributed to 17,000 Iraqi kids. Larson was also the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa when he was called to active duty. The party did not fill his position but his term as party leader was up just last month. Larson’s father is in Baghdad ’til June as he’s advising the Iraqis on the set-up of a judicial system. Charles Larson, Senior, is the U-S Attorney for Iowa’s northern district. There were 53 other soldiers in the unit who returned to Iowa last night besides Larson. Diane Clevenger of Indianola was on hand to welcome home her 20-year-old son, Jeff. She says the network of support from other military families helped her through the time apart.
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