Around 640 soldiers with the Iowa National Guard are returning home today, after nearly two years of active duty, including 16 months in Iraq. A welcome home ceremony is scheduled for one o’clock this afternoon at Waterloo’s Riverfront Stadium. The First Battalion, 133rd infantry was featured on the Memorial Day edition of "60 Minutes".
Mike Ites told the program he believes U.S. troops are doing the right thing. Ites says, "Yeah, I believe that we’re supposed to be over here, progress is being made. If you go back to 9-11 and what the people did there, and when the President asked, ‘Do you want me to go after these people?’, the whole United States stood up in unison and said ‘yes we do’. He says ‘This is going to be long and drawn out. Are you really sure you’re going to stand with me?’ And they said ‘yes we will.’ Well, now there are some that aren’t. Because the American people are a ‘give me’ people and ‘give it to me know.’"
C-B-S correspondent Scott Pelley jumped in. Pelley said, "Your’e a little bit angry that folks at home have turned against the war." Ites responded, "Yes, you could say that." Pelley responded again saying Ites was more than a little bit angry and he responded, "As I said, I believe in what we’re doing."
Two soldiers with the unit that are not coming home with their fellow members of the 133rd are Specialist Kampha Sourivong of Iowa City and Staff Sergeant Scott Nisley of Marshalltown. They were both killed by a roadside bomb. The "60 Minutes" program showed Nisley’s wife Jerri meeting Scott’s body at the Des Moines airport as his casket was unloaded. Nisley said she had to meet his body when it came home, because she’d been at all his other homecomings. Nisley said it was going to be their 25th wedding anniversary when he got home. Nisley said she hadn’t experienced any anger, just disappointment in her personal loss.
Forty-five-year-old Ben Corell of Strawberry Point is the unit’s commander. He spoke by phone with Iowa reporters in June. "I look forward to getting back home and being able to be in my house with my whole family around me," Corell said. "I think that (opinion’s) probably shared (by) everybody within this organization and the families that are waiting for us to come back home." Corell was pushing for a big welcome home ceremony and his wish has been fulfilled.
But Corell admits some of his soldiers have dreams of their own since alcohol was not allowed in their area of Iraq. "There are some folks who are looking to invest some of their money in a six-pack of beer and sit on their front porch and take care of that want that they have," Corell says. Corell worked 15-hour days while he was in Iraq, and told reporters in June that it was an "eye-opener" to be told they’d been in Iraq for 16 months.
"Time has a different aspect here. It’s difficult to describe…You take one day at a time. Once you hop on that wheel and take over the mission, you have so much to do every day that time just has a different connotation to it," Corell said. As the commander of the unit, Corell was the last one to step up onto the aircraft that took the soldiers out of Iraq.
"I’ll tell you that I’m very much looking forward to getting home to my wife and the rest of my family back up in northeast Iowa," Corell told reporters at the end of June.