BROOKVILLE — “Thank you and welcome home” were words that were echoed many times Friday afternoon as members of the 665th Engineer Detachment were honored at a reception at The Heritage House.

Recognized at the reception honoring their return from Iraq were SSG Daniel Emery and Sgt. Ramon DeLaCruz.

The 665th Engineer Detachment were deployed in April 2018 to participate in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.

Welcoming the soldiers, who were surrounded by family members and friends, American Legion member Randy Bartley said, “We welcome these warriors into the community of citizens. This transition is not always an easy process. You have come from an area where violence is commonplace to a place of safety. You have come from a place where you were an alien to a place that is your home.

State Rep. Cris Dush, an Air Force veteran, said, “To the wives, you guys have it tough and I know it. I am grateful for having a wife who stood by me during my deployments. I know how special it is to have somebody back home that stays true and shares everything that comes up.”

Dush told the soldiers, “We really are blessed to have you guys going over and serving. We can never, ever let happen again what happened to the guys that served in Vietnam. Coming back from Iraq there were a bunch of us that had lost family members in Vietnam. We were talking about difference between the reception we knew we were going to get and what they went through when they came home. We vowed, never again.”

Dush told the veterans “you aren’t getting a big parade, but the hearts of the people that are here are sincere. We’ve got things that we still have to fight for, fighting for Americans. You guys have gone into places where you know how blessed your children are, how blessed you are, and we have to protect that. Thank you and welcome home.”

Krupa Steele, director of Jefferson County Veterans Affairs Office, welcomed the veterans to her office. “If you have any questions, please feel free to come in. There is a lot we can do to help,” she said.

“To the wives,” she said, “I want to say thank you very much for everything that you did. I know it was a tough job.”

Also recognized but unable to attend the program were Sgt. Jordan Bish, Sgt. Allen Bowen, SPC Amber Rawson, Sgt. Josie Stitt, SPC Curtis Reed and SPC Megan Nosker.

“I am glad to be back with my family,” DeLaCruz said. “I am grateful to be back.

“I am happy to be here. I am very thankful for everyone that had a hand in today, and thankful to be with my wife again,” Emery said.

He said he felt the mission “was worth doing. I think we had impact.” Emery was “a contractor before I left and I’m looking to take a position with the Department of the Army, hopefully soon.”

His wife, Ciera, said she is “really happy to have us all together again. The kids did very well and we are proud of them. It’s been a long time coming, but we made it. We were very fortunate that we could communicate almost daily. We would do it again if we had to. It’s always a possibility.”

His grandmother, Shirley Emery, said, “I am just really happy.”

Emery and DeLaCruz both said they thought their mission was a success. And both said they would do it again.

“I would go again,” DeLaCruz said. “We were able to accomplish our mission,” as they were moved to different areas of Iraq.

The welcome home luncheon was hosted by the American Legion and VFW, with support from the d’Argy family.

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