Homecoming For Delayed Idaho Guardsmen

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - The wait is finally over for dozens of families and Idaho National guardsmen to reunite.

On Thursday, just after 7 p.m. the first bus carrying a dozen or so guardsmen pulled up to a cheering crowd at the Idaho National Guard Armory in Post Falls.

The brave men and women with the 116th Brigade Combat Team just wrapped up a year long deployment in Iraq.

"It's been very long, it's been sad, it's been good," Leah Duran said as she waited for her husband to arrive.

Leah Duran's husband deployed shortly after their daughter Emma was born. Emma is now 14 months old and waiting to walk on her own until her dad is home.

"I've had her. It's been busy and just one day at a time. Just trying to make it one day at a time so," Duran said.

The soldiers were expected to be home a few days sooner but a backlog at Joint Base Lewis McChord pushed back when they could make the trip home.

"My son is pretty solid, pretty level headed and I know this has gotten to him a little bit," said one parent waiting for his son.

As the guardsmen made their trip over Snoqualmie Pass Thursday they ran into another delay. An 11 car pileup and brush fire on I-90 near Ellensburg forced the Washington State Patrol to close the road for several hours. The soldiers took a detour that put the first bus in Post Falls just after 7 p.m. The second bus arrived just after 7:30 p.m.

In all 30 soldiers returned home Thursday night. Another 20 guardsmen returned earlier in the week.

"It feels awesome," Sgt. Richard Mathews said.

"I'm glad the community supports us, it makes me doing my job a lot easier," Mathews said.