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Press Release
November 02, 2005
Family and country: Returning Oregon Guard soldiers thankful for support
Krystal Lyon was six months pregnant when she found out her husband Spc. Paul Lyon was deploying to Iraq. The Independence couple had recently married, and were enjoying their life as newly weds.
"It was kind of scary," Krystal said of her husband's deployment. "When I think of war, I think of people dieing, and didn't want my husband to die."
Paul and the other soldiers of the National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry overcame many hardships while serving their country in war-torn Iraq, including bombs placed on travel routes and extreme heat, but the hardships overcome by their families left behind was no less heroic.
"It was a handful taking over all his responsibilities," Krystal said. "I still work full time, and taking care of our son, it was twice the work."
The worries and struggles were all forgotten Wednesday when Paul and more than 200 other members of 3rd Bn., 116th Cav. returned to the United States.
"I'm pretty excited," Krystal said. "It kind of makes me want to cry. I'm really happy that he's home."
Many tears of joy were shed by family members and soldiers alike as they renewed their affections for each at a welcome reception held at Fort Lewis, Wash.
"It feels so great to be back. I'm planning on spending time with my family," Paul said, holding up the couple's 1-year-old son Kaden. "Especially this little one who was born while I was away."
Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the adjutant general of the Oregon Guard, said the returning soldiers are heroes who would not have been able to achieve what they had without the support of their families and communities.
"The country has asked a lot from these soldiers and their families and employers," Rees said. "I can't thank them enough."
More than 500 Oregon Guard soldiers have returned recently or are in the process of returning. The returning troops seemed thankful for the support received while fighting insurgents and providing security for civilians in Iraq.
"We always liked getting something in the mail," Paul said. "It's very important to the soldiers."
Master Sgt. Neil Brooks of Redmond, who arrived last week with G Troop, 82nd Cavalry, another Oregon Guard unit that just returned from Iraq, said, "I thank the people of Oregon. The support was great. It keeps the morale high, and that's tough to do in 130 degree heat."
Brooks said the unit was never without the supplies they needed, such as toiletries, thanks to the many packages sent from home. He said the unit also appreciated the gifts sent by businesses and the letters written by elementary school children.
"People did a great job of separating the politics of the situation from the soldiers," Brooks continued. "We felt like the people supported us whether they agreed with why we were over there or not."
Master Sgt. Jerry Schacher, who in his civilian job works as a counselor in LaGrande, said it is important for the soldiers to feel that support.
"The soldiers need to see the support of the country," he said. "They're going to have a hard time adjusting (back into their civilian lives) and we need to support these guys."
The returning soldiers participate in a five-to-seven day demobilization process at Fort Lewis before returning to their homes in Oregon.
G Troop has a welcome home ceremony in Redmond scheduled for Nov. 13, and the 3-116th's welcome ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 16 in LaGrande.
The Oregon Guard still has 180 soldiers in Iraq, with another 40 in Kuwait and 150 in Afghanistan. Nine hundred members of Oregon's 41st Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this summer.
Newbaby.jpg - Spc. Paul Lyon of Independence hugs his wife Krystal and 1-year-old son Kaden Wednesday at Fort Lewis, Wash. Lyon's unit, the Oregon National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry, is returning from a year tour of duty in Iraq.
Daughterhug.jpg - Sarah White, 11, hugs her father Sgt. Brian White of Trout Lake, Wash., Wednesday at a welcome reception for 3rd Bn., 116th Cav. More than 500 Oregon National Guard troops have returned home recently or are in the process of coming home.
Crowd.jpg - Friends and family great the returning soldiers Wednesday.
Kay Fristad
Capt Mike Braibish
Cell 503-932-5805