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News >  Idaho

Boise-based unit returns from Iraq

Associated Press

BOISE – After several months of service in the Middle East, two dozen Air National Guardsmen are back home with their friends and family.

Members of the 189th Airlift Squadron flew back to Boise on Wednesday aboard one of the unit’s C-130s.

Chief Master Sgt. Kim Callahan, of Meridian, said the crew couldn’t wait to get home.

“Some of these guys were ready to jump out with parachutes,” she said.

The 189th rotates air and maintenance crews through the Middle East, where their mission is to transport soldiers and equipment.

Many members of the squadron have completed several tours of duty since being called into service last January. The unit is expected to stay on station through December 2006.

Adaela Pelton’s tears started flowing as soon as the distinct profile of the C-130 came into view at Gowen Field with her husband, Andy Pelton, on board. With their three young children, the family had a joyful reunion on the runway.

“It’s just so emotional,” Adaela Pelton said. “(The deployment) is hard on the kids and hard on me, but we will always support him.”

The returning men and women are being replaced by another small group from the 189th, which flew to Kuwait last month.

“Things were really busy, as you can imagine,” said Pelton, who has been on two previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Callahan’s husband, Mike, along with her son, Joshua Rogers, and her mother, Patricia Kenyon, greeted her with hugs when she stepped off the plane.

“It seems like it’s been a real long time,” Mike Callahan said.

The couple will celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary next week.

Aside from transporting troops and equipment, Callahan said, the crews flew Iraqi police officers around Iraq and flew a group of journalists from Jordan into Iraq.

She and her fellow air crew members also spent Christmas Day transporting the personal effects of soldiers killed in action.

“That was the worst part,” she said. “But other than that, it was pretty positive.”

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Brig. Gen. Larry Lafrenz, commanding general of the Idaho National Guard, greeted the returning crew members.

“These are great days of celebration, because I get to see these families and their reunions,” Kempthorne said. “Our prayers were answered today, and our prayers go out to those who are still over there.”

Other Idaho National Guard units are deployed on different missions to the Middle East, including about 1,600 soldiers from the 116th Brigade Combat Team, which began a yearlong mission in northern Iraq in mid-December.

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