Iowa National Guard unit returns home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa National Guard unit returns home

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Dozens of Iowa soldiers spent their first night at home Monday, after months overseas.

Nearly a year ago, the 109th Medical Battalion said goodbye to friends and family, as they left for a peacekeeping mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Hundreds of their family members packed the seats and the aisles at Iowa City West High School, impatiently awaiting the return of their loved ones. With 'welcome home' signs planted in the ground, and gripped tightly in hand, Vickie Michael and her daughter Raven Kuehl could barely contain themselves.

"it's been a long time," said Michael.

Then, after one year and a brief ceremony, the moment they had been waiting for: Kuehl and her friend, Sergeant Amanda Lansing, reunited. The two served together in Iraq, in 2003 and 2004.

"We've been the best of friends ever since," said Lansing.

"She has been my battle buddy since we were deployed together and helped each other through everything, and it's great to finally have her home again," exclaimed Kuehl, as she hugged her friend.

Lansing says she felt safe on this mission, even as the current struggle between Israel and Palestine re-ignited nearby.

"We heard the sounds from Gaza from where I was at, but we really weren't in any imminent danger."

Even so, relief poured out from other families, as they cried on, hugged and kissed their loved ones.

Captain Bethaney Conklin held her daughter again for the first time in months. "It feels great, and it's strange that my daughter's so big now. She's grown a lot."

More than that, it's a much-deserved return to normalcy, now that these soldiers' boots are planted firmly back home.

"We can go back out having fun, and enjoying life."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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