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Airmen return home after third deployment

Managing editor

It doesn’t often happen but sometimes, even in some of the most serious situations, there are things of which to be thankful.

Such was the case of James Schlehuber of Marion and Matt Williams of Florence. The two airmen are members of the 134th Air National Guard, stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.

They completed their third tour of duty May 22, after being deployed Jan. 4 to Iraq.

American Legion Riders from eight units gave the men a formal welcome Sunday afternoon at Marion VFW.

As it turned out, the two Marion County men worked the same shift at the same airfield in Balad, Iraq, seeing each other on a daily basis.

Details of their mission were not available for security reasons.

“All I can say is that we had control of air space,” Schlehuber said.

And that was 278,000 square miles of air space.

For the younger airman Williams, it’s a family tradition even though that’s not the reason for joining.

His father, Max Williams of Florence, served in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt Williams’ uncle was in the Air Force and older brother in the U.S. Navy.

Without any fanfare, father and son said it wasn’t a family tradition but the right thing to do — to serve their country.

When Schlehuber and Williams were asked what was next, Schlehuber said he didn’t know for sure how long they will be home or if and when they may again be deployed.

“I’m going to buy me a motorcycle and get a vest and join these guys,” Williams said, referring to the American Legion Riders.

Last modified July 23, 2009

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