Waterloo welcome -
A crowd estimated at 8000 people gathered at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo on July 25 to welcome the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry of the Iowa Army National Guard home from Iraq. Photo by Diana Otto
Several area servicemen returned home on Wednesday from a tour of duty in Iraq and were welcomed home by family and friends. The 1st Battalion ("Ironman Battalion"), 133rd Infantry, of the Iowa Army National Guard arrived back in Iowa, and a motorcade escorted the group of nearly 500 soldiers from Dubuque to Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo, where a Welcome Home ceremony took place.
Some of the troops march onto the field at Waterloo Wednesday to join their fellow soldiers who are already lined up. Photo by Diana Otto
The soldiers were led onto the field by the McKenzie Highlanders and a short program included the singing of "God Bless the USA" and the National Anthem, remarks by Iowa National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood and an Invocation and Benediction by Chaplain Gary Selof.
The sign says it all -
The "Message Board" in Aurelia sends a message to the town's returning heroes. Photo by Dan Whitney
Four young men from Aurelia - Brian Skou, Louis DeRoos, Tanner Johnson, and Mike Nelson - all members of Company B - were among the returning soldiers.
Skou 20, Johnson 27, Nelson 31, and DeRoos 35, were deployed to Iraq in September of 2005.
DeRoos, a graduate of Alta High School, is the son of Les and Carolyn DeRoos of Alta. He joined the Army National Guard as a junior in high school, and has served two tours of duty. He and his wife Sherry live in Aurelia, and have three children - now 10, 7, and 5 years old. DeRoos has served as a technician and has considered himself a professional soldier.
Nelson is the son of Van and Rose Nelson of Aurelia, and was attending college when the battalion was called to duty.
Johnson is the son of Dave and Sue Johnson of Aurelia. He has served in the Guard for almost ten years, and is a collision repair tech. He also has served two tours of duty.
Skou is the son of Donnie and Connie Skou of Marathon. He was preparing to attend college when the call came from the Guard.
In a September 2005 article in the Chronicle Times, DeRoos said, "I am the guy who talked both of these guys (Johnson and Skou) into joining the Guard. We are good friends and know each other as well as you could know anyone. We look out for each other. We are proud to serve our country."
Johnson and DeRoos served in vehicle repair and maintenance while in Iraq. Skou served as a Fire Support Specialist, and ran into one or the other when he needed to take a vehicle out. When he was home on R & R last year, Skou said, "I take 'em out and break 'em, and bring 'em back for them to fix."
Tie a Yellow Ribbon...
Main Street in Aurelia is decked out in yellow ribbons awaiting the return of local Army National Guard soldiers. Photo by Dan Whitney
The Aurelia community honored all three with a potluck meal when they left in September of 2005. There are no special ceremonies planned at this time, but there are yellow ribbons up and down Main Street and a "Welcome Home - Thank You" note on the town's Message Board, located at the corner of Highway 7 and Main Street.
In the 2005 article, Skou said he plans on attending college when his tour of duty is finished. Johnson plans on serving six more years, making a total of 14, but also said he was thinking of serving a full twenty years. DeRoos said he planned to be in the service until he retired.
Nelson was not available for the earlier article.
Home to friends and family -
Louis DeRoos (left) is joined by his wife Sherry and two of his three children, and Brian Skou (right) is welcomed home by girlfriend Miranda Galvin as the soldiers returned from their tour of duty in Iraq. Photo by Diana Otto