Families and friends in three Iowa communities are preparing to welcome home Iowa National Guard soldiers from a tour in Iraq. Iowa Guard spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood, says the soldiers will arrive home on Saturday.
He says the 120 soldiers are from Company B of the 248th Aviation Support Battalion from Boone, Waterloo and Davenport. They have been in Iraq for the last year.
Hapgood says Saturday’s ceremonies signal an end to this mission ands are designed to allow the families and communities to welcome home the soldiers and let them know how much they care about them. He says it’s also a chance for the senior leadership of the guard to publicly acknowledge the soldiers and the work they have done.
Hapgood says the time soldiers are away has changed. Hapgood says it used to be the rule that soldiers would be on the ground in the combat zone for one year, now the rule is they are gone for one year, so the time that’s used to prepare them to go overseas is counted in their tour.
Hapgood says the return of these soldiers leaves between 350 and 370 soldiers from Iowa still in a combat zone, with a majority of those in Iraq.
The homecoming ceremonies are set for 2:00 Saturday at the Waterloo Army Aviation Support Facility and also at the Davenport Army Aviation Support Facility. The other ceremony is at 4:30 in Boone at the Des Moines Area Community College Gymnasium. Hapgood says the ceremonies are open to the public and you are encouraged to attend.