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Soldiers come home after year in war

July 17, 2008 3:24:38 PM PDT
After a year of deployment, an Illinois National Guard unit was reunited with family members at Midway Airport Thursday. Members of the Illinois National Guard's 935th Intermediate Maintenance Company spent time in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We were in Balot, Bagram, Kuwait and a couple other countries I can't pronounce right now," said Bianca Allen, Illinois National Guard. "I'm very tired."

"It's our first anniversary," said Marisol Allen, whose husband is finally home. "What a day."

"Don't get me started. I'm just glad he's back. It was hard when he first left. Now that he's home I'm relieved," said Sharon Coleman, whose son, Jason Memen, is home. Memen will soon return to life as an anthropology and psychology major at UIC. He said living in close quarters with the same people for a year taught him a lot.

"You start to see their true side come out, so you get to know about other people," said Memen.

Dan Lieber is a new dad who will soon resume life as a Chicago firefighter. He came home on leave in February to see his new son, Joe, but then had to go back to Kuwait. "He's a lot bigger - a lot bigger now," said Lieber.

And Mom, who's already busy with a newborn, can count on dad again to cut the grass.

"We'll be alright. We're happy. It's about time - it took a year for him to come home, so we're happy," said Laura Lieber.

Coming home also means saying good-bye - at least for now - to others who've been part of your life for a year.

"It's a relief to know everyone is fine. I'm glad to be home," said Shaun Montalvo, Illinois National Guard.

There are roughly 100 citizen soldiers in Company B of the 935th. They worked mainly aircraft repair in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of that unit - having given a year of service - are now given what's called "dwell time" - meaning the unit would get four to five years before being subject to re-activation.


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