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Published: Monday, 7/9/2007

Cheers greet 250 airmen back in Toledo from Iraq

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Nell Wright, right, of Mansfield, yells with family members and friends as more than 200 airmen return to Toledo from Iraq. Nell Wright, right, of Mansfield, yells with family members and friends as more than 200 airmen return to Toledo from Iraq.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Hundreds of returning Ohio Air National Guardsmen were met by an even larger number of cheering family and friends this evening at the end of a two-month tour in Iraq for members of the 180th Fighter Wing based at Toledo Express Airport.

I m going to cook out and enjoy the rest of my summer, Staff Sgt. Daniel Meyer, of Waterville, said after group-hugging his toddler son and twin daughters.

I missed so much with these guys [the children]. I m going to spend a lot of time with them.

About 250 Air Guardsmen, mostly from the 180th but also about 35 from other units who provided support services during the deployment, landed shortly before 6 p.m. in an MD-11 marked for World Airways. The flight had come direct to Toledo Express from Germany.

Amber Meyer, of Waterville, hugs her husband, Sgt. Douglas Meyer, who is among 200 airman returning to Toledo from Iraq. Amber Meyer, of Waterville, hugs her husband, Sgt. Douglas Meyer, who is among 200 airman returning to Toledo from Iraq.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Most of those aboard had flown overseas in late April or early May at the beginning of the deployment, during which the 180th provided air support for American military operations in Iraq.

About 25 members of the 180th remain on assignments in southwest Asia.

One of them, Lt. Col. Kevin H. Sonnenberg, 42, of McClure, Ohio, was killed June 15 when his F-16 fighter crashed on take-off from a base about 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Lt. Col. Carole Allan, executive officer for the 180th, said the base likely will hold a memorial event for Colonel Sonnenberg sometime during August or September, once his colleagues have had some time to readjust to their return home.

They get a little time to reconnect with their families and just slow down, Colonel Allan said. After going hard for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, they need some time to relax.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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