428th Engineer Company Welcomed Home in Wausau

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

More than 100 members of the Wausau-based 428th Engineer Company are reunited with their loved ones.

The troops landed at Central Wisconsin Airport Tuesday night, but not without some prior complications.

The unit spent a year in Afghanistan, clearing roadside bombs and disabling IEDs.

Finally Tuesday night, family members and friends had the emotional reunion they'd been waiting for at Wausau West High School.

Sgt. Dustin Bowden's and his wife Carlee were so excited to hug each other they smashed into one another, toppling over loudly onto the gymnasium floor.

"As soon as we were dismissed we ran over to each other and she went high and I went low and I ended up hitting my head.. it was pretty funny," Sgt. Bowden said.

Members of the 428th could have come home a few days earlier, if it hadn't been for a tropical storm named Irene. The unit was undergoing demobilization at Fort Dix in New Jersey when Hurricane Irene struck.

They had been scheduled to fly home Sunday, but Irene blew their plans away.

"It's definitely frustrating but we just knew every day we spent at Fort Dix was one day closer to being home," Sgt. Bowden said.

Though the smiling faces couldn't be missed Tuesday night, the homecoming was also bittersweet.

Corporal Justin Ross, of Green Bay, should have been at Wausau West Tuesday night, but he was shot in Afghanistan and died on March 26th. Eighteen soldiers within the unit were injured during their time in the war zone.

For now, these troops will go on with their lives, happy to have served their country and finally be home.

Some of the members of the 428th have fought overseas multiple times, one soldier returned home for the 5th time.

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