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National Guard soldiers return from deployment

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'Nothing like coming home'

By Marty Finley

Now that Staff Sgt. Jeremy Jackson is back from a months-long deployment to the Middle East — his first — he plans to relax.

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“Take a shower without flip flops on,” he said.

Jackson was one of a handful of soldiers who returned Wednesday to the National Guard Armory in Elizabethtown after deploying the first of the year. They were part of the Kentucky National Guard 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery, said 2nd Lt. Joseph Davis.

Davis said about 50 soldiers returned Wednesday with stops in Elizabethtown, Campbellsville, Glasgow, Tompkinsville and Monticello. About five soldiers arrived at the Elizabethtown headquarters, he added.

The unit was assigned to Jordan, where it worked with a task force to teach infantry tactics in preparation for the rigors of Afghanistan, he said. The trip also was meant to build rapport, Davis said.

The deployment was nearly nine months long with boots hitting the ground at the end of January, he said.

Jackson said the oppressive heat was one of the major adjustments he had to make. He was assigned to a smaller unit in Kuwait that provided direct support to those in Jordan, he said.

“(It) was very hot, that’s about all you can say about it,” he said. “(The deployment) was not bad, though.”

And he was happy to be back stateside.

“It’s great,” he said. “There’s nothing like coming home.”

Soldiers who arrived at the armory on West Warfield Street were greeted by loved ones and well-wishers who waved American flags.

Ann Kowalkoski was attending one of her weekly exercise sessions at the armory when she learned about the small welcome home ceremony. Her husband, Ron, a retired U.S. Army ordnance officer, joined her in holding an oversized flag at the door as soldiers drifted in.

Once she found out about their arrival, Kowalkoski immediately set out to procure coffee and donuts for the soldiers.

“We have a deep appreciation for people that serve,” she said.

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@

thenewsenterprise.com.