Oklahoma soldiers return home

Monday, October 13th 2008, 9:17 am
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

BETHANY, Okla. -- White buses rolled into Bethany with returning members of the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade.

Three homecoming ceremonies were held Monday at Southern Nazarene University. Similar ceremonies will be held over the next week as more troops return.

In the year since these men and women have been gone, they've missed out on some big moments in their families' lives, but they will all begin the process of making up for lost time.

As they walked in, family and friends welcomed them with signs and banners.

For some, the sight of brave men and women evoked emotion.

For some children, the wait was excruciating as they anxiously searched for their mother or father.

"They performed magnificently and we are extremely, extremely proud for the service you have rendered," said Maj. Gen. Bud Wyatt of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

The 45th Infantry Brigade was deployed last year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and have been working with detainees and providing security.

"The last time I went, it was combat. This time, it wasn't combat, and I think it helped a lot with my own problems I had before," said Specialist Jesse Schwerdtfeger.

Schwerdtfeger returned home for the second time, and his daughters couldn't wait to see him.

"It was fun to see him and he let us come up and hug him," Schwerdtfeger's daughter Addison said.

Charles Kimberly saw his newborn son for the first time.

Kimberly's son was born on Sept. 11, one of the very reasons why he missed his son's birth.

"I'm glad I was here to protect the country, help everything out, bring a new life into the world," Kimberly said. "It was a great feeling."

There are more homecomings for the 45th scheduled for Tuesday. It's expected 2,600 guardsmen will be home within the next week.

The 45th Infantry didn't lose a single soldier. They'll all be coming home safe and sound.