Archive for Thursday, December 29, 2005

Eudorans return home from war

December 29, 2005

After a yearlong deployment in Iraq, three Eudora men returned home to their families just in time for the Christmas holiday.

"I tell you it was really a special deal," said Staff Sergeant Rod Moyer.

Moyer, along with Specialist Kurtis McCormick and Sergeant First Class Jim Briery, returned to their families in mid-December, finishing a trip that took them from Iraq to Kuwait and eventually home.

Each served in the 891st Engineer Battalion participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In Iraq, the battalion had responsibilities ranging from building roads and maintaining buildings like Abu Ghraib prison.

Also keeping the battalion busy was the task of searching for improvised explosive devices. The battalion found approximately 250 improvised explosive devices, Moyer said.

"They did a lot of stuff. That battalion is pretty impressive," Moyer said.

Moyer served as a staff captain, maintaining contact with various members of the battalion.

"I worked mostly at night, and I monitored all the units that were outside the wire," Moyer said.

Outside the wire refers to the companies that ventured outside the battalion's home base in Tallil, Iraq.

The 891st worked to stabilize the area in Iraq, but also witnessed history as the Iraqi people took the first few steps toward their independence.

"The Iraqi people, they're a really good people, especially down where we were. They're for the change," Moyer said.

The battalion left before the Iraqi people had their most recent constitutional vote.

The soldiers survived their yearlong trip by maintaining contact with family and friends back home.

Moyer, who worked as the principal at Eudora West Elementary School, kept in contact with his students and the district as well as with his family.

"I tell you what, for quite awhile students from West wrote me letters, and I would write them back, and we maintained contact that way-- and through e-mail, which was really nice," Moyer said. "Once in awhile I'd sneak a phone call in."

Months into his service, Kurtis McCormick had a chance to visit his wife Misty and his two children.

After his time home in March and again now, McCormick said he's seen his children triple in size twice.

Having McCormick home then leave and return home again left a definite impression on Misty.

"Having him back is just great," Misty said. "It's a wonderful feeling knowing that part of you is back again."

The soldiers hit a few snags on their trip home, having to fly back to Iraq because of weather problems in Kuwait and avoided another delay by missing a snowstorm before it heaped snow on the American East Coast.

The battalion arrived at Fort Sill, Okla., and eventually arrived to the Pittsburg armory Dec. 17.

Once the soldiers returned home, some saw to responsibilities of a different sort.

"I haven't seen anybody in nine months, it just felt really good," Kurtis said.

Once home McCormick spent time preparing for the holiday and cleaning house, he said.

After Moyer found free time at home, he became more acquainted with his pillow. He said he spent his first few days sleeping.

"I'm still trying to just kind of stand tall, and I haven't ventured too far yet," Moyer said. "You don't realize how much you really miss, until you really miss it."

Moyer said he appreciated having amenities again like being able to drink water from the faucet, seeing grass and having the ability to wear clothes other than an Army uniform.

He said he is also starting to work on a larger adjustment.

"I'm just going to kind of hang loose and give this a little time and get use to this time, then get my way back into work," Moyer said.

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