Soldiers receive welcome upon return from Iraq

A yearlong odyssey came full circle in Brookville. One year ago, the 54 soldiers in the 665th Engineer Detachment left for Iraq. On Friday, they came home.

American Legion Post 102 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 204 in Brookville hosted the soldiers who were able to attend.

American Legion member Herb McConnell, a Vietnam War veteran, recalled coming home from that conflict without a welcome.

“We want to be sure that never happens again to anyone who serves this nation,” he said.

Commander William Littlefield, of VFW Post 204, recalled returning to the country after his second tour in Vietnam and being ignored.

“That was better than being scorned,” he said. “I am a member of the Vietnam Veterans chapter in Clearfield where our motto is ‘Never again will one generation of veterans be ignored by other veterans.”

Looking at the new veterans he said, “You are in a brotherhood that nobody can take away from you. I thank you.”

Jefferson County Veterans Affairs Coordinator Krupa Steele, a 10-year Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, said he understands the transition from a deployment.

“To the wives, I want to say thank you for everything you do. I know it is a difficult job,” he said.

Sgt. Dan Emery was a contractor before leaving for Iraq. He now hopes to take a position with the Department of the Army.

“I am happy to be home. I am thankful for everyone who had a hand in today. I am just excited to be with my wife and children,” he said.

His wife, Ciera, said, “It is just a relief to have us all together again. It was a long time coming but we made it. We would do it again if we had to; hopefully not soon.”

Looking back on his service in Iraq, Emery said, “I think we had an impact. I think it was worth doing.”

As for Sgt. Ramon Delacruz, “I am glad to be back with my wife and family after nine months in Iraq.”