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Local soldiers return from Iraq

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Associated Press and Gazette Staff
April 21, 2008
— A handful of Rock County soldiers were among 125 from the Wisconsin Army National Guard who returned home this weekend after eight months in Iraq.

Residents along a two-block stretch of Excalibur Drive in Janesville set out flags, ribbons and posters welcoming back Mike Holz, who the Army National Guard said returned Saturday with other soldiers from Troop E, 105th Cavalry, which is based in Merrill and Antigo.


The troop had no casualties in Iraq.


“It’s great to be back in Wisconsin,” said 1st Sgt. Paul Easterday from Galesville. “I really appreciate the support, everybody’s here, really emotional to come back and see everybody again.”


Family and friends cheered on the cool, gray Saturday afternoon as the soldiers stepped from the plane at Volk Field at Camp Douglas. Some soldiers ran to their families and embraced them, ignoring the rope set up to keep the families a safe distance from the aircraft.


Tonya Searles, 33, of Weston, and her husband, Spc. James Searles, 37, held one another close and took pictures with their kids.


For those who wait at home, having a loved one serve in armed conflict evokes a range of emotions, from sadness to pride, Tonya Searles said.


“You just feel everything, and it can happen all at once,” she said before her husband stepped off the plane.


The next goal will be to readjust to everyday life.


“I’m taking it one day at a time and just enjoying life,” Spc. James Searles said.



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