Soldier Homecoming Saturday in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Soldier Homecoming Saturday in Waterloo

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- More than 150 Iowa Army National Guard members returned home Saturday following a year-long deployment to Iraq.

About two dozen members of Company B of the 248th Aviation Support Battalion returned to Waterloo Saturday afternoon.  Other homecoming celebrations took place in Boone and Davenport.

Last June, about two dozen Iowa Army National Guard soldiers gathered to say goodbye to their families in Waterloo.

Specialist Braden Larsen was looking forward to being deployed with his brother.

One year later, Braden's already home.

He was sent home after injuring his shoulder.

"That was fun. Fun while it lasted. It wasn't bad at all," said Larsen.

"He was really expecting to do the full tour and I know that it really hurt him to come home because he wanted to complete his mission and go over there and be with the rest of his friends and family," said Derek Larsen, Braden's brother.

Braden married his fiancee while on leave at Fort Sill.

They'll have a bigger wedding this summer.

One year ago, Warrant Officer Al Kakac held his granddaughter Isabel while preparing for deployment.

One year later, she's back in his arms - a little bigger, a little taller.

"It's amazing. I don't know how the younger people do it. The small families and stuff. My heart goes out to the soldiers. It's hard enough leaving your grandchild. I can't imagine leaving your own child," said Kakac.

For the McLean family, it's been a year of struggle without husband and father.

They have property damaged by both tornadoes and floods.

"I just had to put it in the back of my mind and move on and put my mind on what I was supposed to be doing. My actual job when I was there," said SFC Sahn McLean.

"Overwhelming...Just glad he's home. It's been the longest year of my life," said McLean's wife, Tami.

Many of the soldiers had been deployed before.

The unit was called up in 2001 and 2003.

Online Reporter: Bob Waters

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