Troops return in time for holiday


POSTED: Sunday, July 05, 2009

About 60 Schofield Barracks soldiers came home for the Fourth of July after a 14-month deployment in Iraq.

Friends and families celebrated Independence Day at Wheeler Army Air Field, awaiting the return of loved ones in the 561st Engineer Company, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

“;There is no greater way to celebrate Independence Day than the return of our troops,”; said Col. Timothy Ryan, commander of the 8th Sustainment Brigade Provisional.

Four year-old Nathan Rethage, anxiously awaited his father, Staff Sgt. Ryan Rethage. He was only a few weeks old when his father last returned from Iraq.

“;He's been asking for the past two hours 'Are we leaving yet? When are we picking him up?'”; said mother Michelle Rethage.

“;I'm used to it,”; she said. “;Its his third deployment with the same unit.”;

Brittany Lamoureux waited anxiously in the bleachers to welcome her new fiance back home. Sgt. Caleb Hawkins, proposed to her in February over the Internet from Iraq.

“;I'm nervous, excited ... it's been a long wait,”; said Lamoureux, who flew from Boston to Hawaii to live with Hawkins.

At 1:30 p.m. the soldiers marched into the gym with the Rocky theme song in the background. Following a short speech and blessing, the soldiers rushed to greet their loved ones.

Lamoureux and Hawkins quickly found each other and embraced passionately, ignoring the crowd around them.

“;It's great to be home,”; said Hawkins, who was shaking from the excitement. “;We still gotta work out the details (of the wedding).”;

Spc. Isaac Patris couldn't wait to see his wife and two children, rushing to hug each one.

“;It's a blessing to see my family again,”; said Patris. “;They kept my hope up, knowing there's someone to come home to. No words can explain coming home and seeing them.”;

His wife, Linda, struggled to hold back her tears after seeing Patris. “;It was like I was dead, and now I'm alive,”; she said. “;It was difficult everyday. I didn't know if I'm going to hear from him or not. It took a lot of prayers.”;

The soldiers worked on a variety of construction projects in Iraq and assisted the newly formed Iraqi Civil Service Corps.