Families waited in Johnston, Boone and Cedar Rapids today for their family members in the Iowa National Guard to return from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. Eighteen-year-old Michael Dahl of Boone waited outside the Johnston High School gym to see his dad Allen come home.

 He says his dad was deployed one other time, so he knew a little about what to expect, but it was still tough to not be able to see him whenever he wanted. Dahl says it goes by faster than what you might think, but he says it is tough on everybody. Dahl says the hardest times were hearing about soldiers being wounded or killed.

“That stuff’s like the worst here, I mean you are sitting and waiting…they go out on a mission an you’re not sure if they’re going to come back, or how its going to go…anything can happen.” Heather Burke waited with her twin four-year-olds Conner and Gracie for the return of Sergeant Kevin Burke. She says knowing they were in Wisconsin and almost back to Iowa was tough.

Heather said the last week has been the worst part of the wait as the kids asked every day when dad would be home. Gracie waited anxiously holding her mom’s hand. Gracie said she wanted to hug and kiss her dad when he got back. She got the hug and kiss about an hour-and-a-half later as her dad’s unit was dismissed and spread out on the Johnston gym floor to meet family and friends.