This is Debbie writing for the blog, usually it is Todd and Peggy, and since it is me, it will be my take on the event. I must admit I have been a little, no a lot, focused on the wedding of Tyler, which by the way, is next week. Due to this obsession, I had not been aware of others in the world. I only go on my daily to do list, checking things off and accomplishing the many related tasks. Peggy mentioned on Saturday, that Zack our nephew, Scott's boy, was coming in from Iraq one day soon. She told us that Scott and Linda may or may not be able to come to the wedding depending on the day he comes in. That was exciting and great news and certainly understandable. She said she would let us know when he was coming home. On Sunday Peggy finds out that Zack is coming into Salt Lake City on Monday. They don't know a time, but let's all go down. I told her, you bet, sure, we would love to, and in my mind I am frantically going through to see if I can get my million errands that are on my Monday list done and still get to see Zack come home. I am still in my "I" mode, which I am sad to admit. At 2:00 was the time to meet at the airport. Let me tell you, that was the most humbling, emotional, touching and interesting experience I have ever had. When I was little I went to the airport with my mom and grandmother to send off my grandma's sister. She was a little on the grumpy side and so I am sure everyone was glad her visit was coming to an end. However, when I got to the airport, I immediately started to cry for some strange reason. Ever since that experience, I cry at airports coming or going, me or anyone else. Complete strangers, various trips, different purposes for the trips, it doesn't matter I am a basket case at airports. I probably need some kind of medication before I even get in the car. Anyway, we pull into the army air base and park the car. We start walking toward a big building with about 1,000 other people. Mind you, I had no idea what to expect. We went to a large hanger where the families were waiting for the plane to be unloaded. I wasn't there 10 seconds, when all the airport emotions started to flow. The sight was unreal, families with signs, young moms with their babies and small children waiting for their dads, brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, it was overwhelming. I could not get my emotions in check. Two rows of soldiers with flags lined the walkway of the young men coming out of the plane. Coming off the plane they all looked the same, dressed the same, same build, but there was no missing Zack. He was about the fourth one off the plane. Watching him hug his mom, sisters, and family, broke my heart. He looked wonderful. While he was saying hello to everyone, I looked around and saw the same emotional reunion with all the other families. My feelings on the war in Iraq have been limited, it has not touched me personally. I know I love my country. I know that we have freedom,
because of these brave men, but I was hit with a sledge hammer on Monday witnessing this sight. I felt in awe of these young men, honored to be in their presence. I am appalled and embarrassed at my apathy towards the war and the efforts of all the young men who are willing to leave their homes, family and country to enable me to have freedom. It was an eye opening and humbling experience. I have a new respect and gratitude for Zack and my nephew Lyle who is still out, as well as all of those other soldiers. I am indebted to these men and women who serve, as well as, their families who let them leave and support them. It was a wonderful experience, one that I will treasure always.
Here is the Video from KSL News. Zach is walking between the flags.
The article from KSL Utah soldiers return home after 10-month deployment
May 26th, 2008 @ 10:00pm
Sarah Dallof and Sam Penrod reporting
Eighty Utah soldiers from the First Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Unit, had special reason to celebrate on Memorial Day: they're home with loved ones for the first time in 10 months.
Their plane landed at the Air National Guard Base at 765 N. 2200 W. in Salt Lake City just a few minutes before 2 p.m. Monday.
Before the landing, family and friends waited anxiously inside, holding homemade signs and American flags. Members of the 145th have been gone since June, and they've definitely been missed.
Evelyn Black was waiting for her sons. She said, "It's like a big pit in your stomach, and it never goes away until they're coming back to safe ground, back to Utah."
Two brothers had an incredible story to tell. One was returning, the other anxiously waiting. Their family excitedly welcomed Jon Carlson home Monday. His twin brother, James, is also with the National Guard. The brothers actually served together on a previous tour.
"He actually signed up before I did. Once he had signed up, then I figured, you know, I've gotta follow my brother," James said.
As the plane landed, the Carlson family was front and center. James was the first to hug Jon. Jon said, "It was amazing. Pretty much the best feeling in my life."
The twins and the family are back together and already looking toward the future.
There were a lot of cheers and tears as soldiers searched for their loved ones. After hugs, they started making plans. They were deciding where to eat, what to do and where to go on vacation.
Those are some hard-earned vacations. These soldiers were performing military-police duties in Iraq since June.
Spc. Christopher Braisted said, "It's pretty windy, sandy, the sky isn't as clear as it is here. It's pretty good to see some blue skies and see some mountains."
The soldiers in the 145th spent nearly the last year at Camp Bucca, Iraq, a prison camp built in the desert of Southern Iraq just across from the Kuwaiti border. It's where approximately 19,000 Iraqi detainees are held, including 2,000 al-Qaida prisoners.
Just last month, CNN got a rare look inside Camp Bucca, where the 145th has been stationed. The Utah troops worked as military police guards, providing security and responding to riots within the camp.
Sgt. Jonathon Carlson told us, "We worked a lot together, and we worked really well together. So despite being away from family, it was bearable, but it sure is good to be home."
The soldiers' homecoming in Utah is also a drastic change of climate, from 115 degrees last week in Iraq to what they came home to Monday.
Spc. Braisted said, "There's hardly any vegetation out there where I was. It only rained a few times, so it's pretty neat to come back and see rain for the first time in months."
This is the first of three groups that will be coming home in the next few days.
The soldiers have been undergoing the demobilization process at Fort Bliss, Texas, since arriving back on U.S. soil earlier this week.
The 145th consists of soldiers from Logan, Brigham City, Manti, Spanish Fork, Fillmore and Camp Williams.