Guardsmen home, 'best Christmas present ever'

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"It's the best Christmas present I've ever had," Karen Musselman said.

The wife of National Guard soldier David Musselman received a phone call Friday night after he returned safely to the U.S. on a 17-hour flight from Iraq.

Her husband told her he expected to return home this Friday or Saturday. "He's doing good," Karen said. She said she understood that there would be a welcome home ceremony for the Guardsmen at Storm Lake High School.

Six members of the Storm Lake garrison of the 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery, of the Iowa National Guard arrived at Camp Shelby, Miss., Friday, according to Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood with the Iowa National Guard.

Those returning include Cpt. Andrew Russell, officer in charge of the Storm Lake garrison; Sgt. David Musselman; SSG J.J. Sorensen; PFC Beau Brauninger; PFC Tyler Grotewold; and PFC Brian Archer.

Sgt. Gregory Tull, a seventh member of the group, was posthumously promoted from corporal after he was killed Nov. 25 when an improvised explosive device went off next to the Humvee in which he was a gunner.

Tull, 20, enlisted in the 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery April 2002 before graduating from Pocahontas Community High School in 2003. He attended South Dakota State University before volunteering for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Hapgood expects details of the return to be known today. He said it would likely be the end of the week before they arrive in Storm Lake after outprocessing for active duty credit and any medical needs.

Hapgood said the Guardsmen would "absolutely" receive a formal welcoming ceremony.

The Storm Lake garrison has relocated operations to Spencer due to remodeling.

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