Spc. Matt Salisbury and more than 70 soldiers with the 116th Brigade Combat Team returned home from Iraq for good Saturday, and most are looking forward to the daily routine of life at home.
"I want to just sit next to my wife and hear her talk," Salisbury said. "I want to make coffee in the morning. I don't want to smell burning oil. I want to hear the kids laugh and teach my daughter to snowboard."
Salisbury, of Nampa, and about 30 Guardsmen flew into the Boise airport Saturday afternoon, while other guard members arrived at airports around the state. About 1,700 members of the Idaho National Guard who are winding down an 18-month deployment in Iraq are scheduled to return home in the coming days and weeks.
In Boise, more than 75 relatives and supporters cheered and cried while waving "Welcome Home" signs and red, white and blue balloons when the first wave of soldiers arrived.
"It's just good to have my dad home," said Terra Fackrell, who missed homework help from her dad, Staff Sgt. Tony Fackrell of Boise.
Soldiers' wives said they felt relief and elation.
"There is so much that you worry about," said Chandra Salisbury, Matt's wife. "Any time they're over in Iraq, you just worry."
"I feel like I want to collapse. I'll just enjoy him being home," said Tonni Fackrell, Tony's wife. "We cleaned the house, and we have a new dog he doesn't know about yet. I praise God that he came home whole."
Several soldiers said the first thing they noticed was the clean, clear Idaho air tinged with the smell of sage.
Home and family are the highlights of many soldiers' plans for the next couple of weeks.
"I'm personally tired of going," said Tony Fackrell, who will return to work at Franklin Building Supply by mid-November.
"Watching BSU play and win," said Matt Salisbury of his intentions for Saturday. "I have no desire to go out."
Salisbury, who will be looking for a job, is nervous but excited about transitioning to life in the Treasure Valley and becoming a daddy again.
The Salisburys have three children, including 1-year-old Madeline, who was born while Salisbury was in Iraq.
Matt Salisbury, who was part of a military intelligence unit responsible for ground surveillance, said experiences in Iraq changed him.
"You are more appreciative and a lot more humble," he said.
Salisbury also had some close calls, like coming back from a mission with a fellow soldier when a rocket hit the ground about 40 to 60 feet in front of them. He said large pieces of shrapnel flew toward the two men, but the pieces dropped in front of them, seeming to be stopped by a cloud that had formed.
"It seemed like a miracle," Salisbury said. "That was pretty intense."
At another time, his unit came to a check point minutes after a bomb had gone off and the soldiers dealt with the aftermath.
Salisbury said talking about sacrifice and service is not like doing it. The stress and closeness of being stationed in Iraq also required each team member to conquer his bad habits, he said.
"It's tough to deal with yourself," Salisbury said. "I'll be eternally grateful for that and to be able to serve my country."
Contact reporter Sandra Forester at sforester@idahostatesman. com or 377-6464.