Military News

Loved ones welcome 85 of the 116th

Sign-waving friends and family braved the cold Friday evening to greet the latest group of Idaho National Guard members to return from Fort Lewis, Wash. — 85 soldiers from the Treasure Valley and Twin Falls area. The soldiers stepped off the plane at Gowen Field to cheers from the crowd and handshakes from Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

Wearing a long leather coat and cowboy hat, Kevin Miller, at right, held a tattered wooden sign — two boards held together by rope — that read "Gipson" for his returning friend, Sgt. Randy Gipson.

"It looks a little hillbilly, but he's a little hillbilly," Miller said with a smile.

When Gipson, second from left, got off the plane, he hugged Miller, left, and friends, Deb Allen and Spc. Dustin Huerta, who also recently returned from Iraq. Gipson, who lives in Boise but had a home in Columbia, Miss., that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, said he was "very happy" to see his friends and that he plans to rebuild his home soon.

"Things have been tough," he said. "Things are going to get better, though."

Read more accounts of returning soldiers on Local 3