The tears at Gowen Field Tuesday were tears of joy instead of sorrow as 121 soldiers arrived home after 18 months away, 10 of those serving in Iraq and an agonizing week or so waiting at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Christie Claus of Boise was crying as she hugged her son, Spec. Jesse Claus, Tuesday. It was the same tarmac where she bid him goodbye a year and a half ago.
"Oh my heck, it feels like a rock has been lifted off my heart," Christie said.
Sgt. Chad Hill's family was thrilled with the Nampa soldier's return. And just in case there was any doubt about their sentiment, his aunts and uncles held aloft signs that read: "Welcome Home Chad Hill."
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"Oh my gosh, this is finally over," said Chad's wife, Aimee. "I know I'm going to knock him down because I'm so excited."
No worries. Aimee knocked Chad over with a lingering embrace and kiss, not a body block.
"It's a wonderful sight," said Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who has taken a half-dozen trips in recent weeks to Fort Lewis, Kuwait and Iraq to shake the hand of each returning soldier.
"Slowly but surely, we're getting them home."
— Kathleen Kreller, Roger Phillips