Soldier families anxiously awaiting homecoming - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Soldier families anxiously awaiting homecoming


Members of Iowa's largest military deployment since World War II are coming home.  185 soldiers assigned to the 1-133rd infantry division will be welcome by family and friends Thursday.  The Iowa Army National Guard has announced homecoming ceremonies in Cedar Rapids, Johnston, and Boone.

Families of all the soldiers are waiting on pins and needs for their troops to arrive in eastern Iowa.

We talked with the families of Sgt. Justin Schmitt of Plainfield and Spc. Jacob Ketelaar of Waverly.  Right now, both of those soldiers are stateside and that's already a weight off their family's shoulders.  But they'll finally be able to be at ease and celebrate after the welcome home ceremonies.

"Who's coming home in a few days?" said Kim Ketelaar.

"My brother!" said Peyton Ketelaar.

Her big brother is 23-year-old Spc. Jacob Ketelaar.  Ketelaar is now in the US and is set to arrive in eastern Iowa this weekend with fellow troops from the 1-133rd infantry battalion.  His mom Kim and two sisters, Kayla age 19 and Peyton age 4, say that dealing with the deployment hasn't been easy, especially after the recent death of fellow Waverly soldier Spc. Don Nichols.

"I was worried regardless, but that definitely made it more real, more scary.  All those boys over there are at risk, and you know, they do the best they can," Kim Ketelaar said.

The Afghanistan deployment is the second tour of duty for 24-year-old Justin Schmitt, who previously deployed to Iraq.  In November, Schmitt missed the birth of his daughter.  His wife Amanda says it's been a struggle to be a single mom to the new baby and her six-year-old daughter.

"There's always going to be those rough days, and there's always going to be those better days.  I'm just looking forward to having him home, and I'm looking forward to possibly a whole night's sleep," Schmitt said.

Adding some relief for these families is the knowledge that their soldiers are out of harm's way, and they are very close to coming home to Iowa.

"He's got a lot of people that just are dying to see him and can't wait to hug him and just thank him for what he's done," said Ketelaar.

While that will be a great moment, the families do realize that many soldiers will still be left on the battle field, and they will keep praying for their safe return.

The National Guard hasn't yet confirmed the details about the homecoming ceremony that family members say will be happening in Cedar Falls.  As we learn more, we'll pass that information on to you.


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