About 130 members of the 1-145th return from Iraq

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Jed Boal reportingPresident Bush was not the only important arrival today at the Utah Air National Guard Base. Approximately 130 Utah National Guard soldiers touched down after a tour of duty in Iraq.

For the families of the soldiers of the First Battalion, 145th Field Artillery (1-145th), the most important planes touched down before the president arrived in Utah. They saw their loved ones for the first time in about a year. As you might expect, soldiers at the homecoming told us they were overwhelmed but proud of their service.

These soldiers are the second and third groups of four to return to Utah from the 1-145th. About 80 of their comrades got home Memorial Day and another 80 will get back to Utah late tomorrow night.

These soldiers come from Logan, Brigham City, Manti, Spanish Fork and Fillmore. It was the second deployment for some of them.

While in Iraq, they handled military police duties at Camp Bucca, one of the largest Coalition detention facilities in Iraq. A member from the 1-145th said, "It was a long, hard job, but we got it done, and I'm glad to be home with wonderful people."

A family member said, "It's so awesome. I can't even describe it. I'm so proud of all the service people."

The last 80 members of the unit get home tomorrow night at 11:30. Some families waiting on those soldiers are upset about their late arrival. A spokesman for the Utah National Guard says the soldiers' return depends upon the time they got back to the states for demobilization at Fort Bliss, Texas.

As for the late flight, that's a bid process that is out of the control of the Utah National Guard.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com


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