Iowa soldiers celebrate freedom one year post-deployment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa soldiers celebrate freedom one year post-deployment

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REINBECK (KWWL) -

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our country's independence.  Some eastern Iowans value that freedom now more than ever.  That's because one year ago, they were awaiting return to the US from Afghanistan, following the largest deployment of our state's troops since World War II.

We caught up with two soldiers and their families spending their first July 4th back home together.

Bonnie and Jerry Shinn know the heartaches of sending not just one, but two sons off to war.

"You just pray every day that they come home safe," Bonnie Shinn said.

But now, those fears are set aside.  Both Shinn boys, Derrick and Caleb, did return safely from deployment to Afghanistan almost one year ago.

"Since I've been home, we just get a lot of support and appreciate it," said Derrick Shinn.

Standing in their parents' front yard in Reinbeck, watching the July 4th parade is a treasured time.  This holiday reminds the Shinns of just how much they value freedom, and those like Derrick and Caleb, who have fought to defend it.

"For me, it's great to get a lot of people that don't really celebrate being a part of the country until the 4th of July, and then showing them what we have done and sacrificed before.  It's just a great showcase for us veterans, what we've done and what we've helped to secure," said Caleb Shinn.

Derrick has decided to now call his military career quits, and just bought a home. 

Caleb is preparing to move back to Iowa, from Illinois, and will retire from the service in a few years after putting in 20 years in the military.  He's glad to be back with his wife and two kids, and is now expecting a third child.

Their parents couldn't be more proud.

"It has changed the perspective of the 4th of July, as far as independence goes...what they did for us," Jerry Shinn said.

And that perspective is a reminder to everyone of why we're able to celebrate freedom.

Since September 11th, more than 15,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries.

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