Military News

250 Idaho soldiers return from Afghanistan

April Sears has never been so happy to be awakened before dawn. Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Kevyn Sears, called her early Tuesday to tell her he landed in the U.S. after a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

"He called me at 4:30 a.m., and I slept better for the next hour and a half than I have the past year," she said.

Sears is one of 250 soldiers from Idaho's 1-183rd Aviation Battalion on their way home from Afghanistan, with some troops already back in the states, Idaho National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Stephanie Dowling said. The battalion is based at Gowen Field and trained at Fort Hood, Texas, before leaving for Afghanistan in February 2006.

Dowling said most of the soldiers will go to Fort Hood before returning to Idaho in three groups, the first expected this weekend, although the exact day is not yet known. The entire battalion should be home within the next two weeks.

About 250 Idaho soldiers served in Afghanistan with the 1-183rd on a diverse mission that included combat missions in Apache helicopters, troop and equipment transport and providing medical care to soldiers and Afghan civilians.

It was one of the largest deployments for the Idaho National Guard since October 2001.

The soldiers served across Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul, the southeastern city of Kandahar and the former al-Qaida stronghold of Khost province, along the country's eastern border with Pakistan.

Some 183rd soldiers saw heavy fighting from a resurgent Taliban, but no Idaho soldiers were killed during the mission.

April Sears said she will be at Gowen Field to meet Kevyn with a large cheering section of family members, including the Nampa couple's five children.

"It's been an emotional year," she said.

To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Heath Druzin at hdruzin@idahostatesman.com or 373-6617.

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