LEWISBURG — It seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
The five area National Guardsmen that returned to the Lewisburg Armory Friday afternoon were so eager to see their homes and loved ones after nearly a year in Kuwait, many were gone within minutes of arriving at the armory.
“We’ve got a homecoming party to get ready for!” said the wife of Guardsman Wesley Bornemann, of Jersey Shore, who returned from his fourth deployment. She declined to give her name.
Bornemann said he was so happy to the “green” Valley.
“All I saw was sand all year,” he said.
Jim Imholte, who lives in Mount Carmel, met his sister’s best friend at the armory - he’s planning to drive to his parents’ home near Kansas City to surprise them.
“It’s at a family reunion,” he said.
Imholte was returning from his third deployment overseas, he said.
The group of soldiers returning Friday were attached to a unit out of Scranton, said Kevin George, a family readiness support assistant with the National Guard, who was on hand to greet the returning soldiers.
“When they can’t fill (up) they pull from some other places,” he said.
The soldiers arrived Friday morning in Harrisburg and boarded a bus to Lewisburg, which was later making stops in Williamsport and Lock Haven, George said. Another bus was heading up to Scranton from Harrisburg. In total, about 200 soldiers returned home.
First Sergeant Michael Schmid, who said he is from Milton but now lives with his wife in Bloomsburg, said his time in Kuwait left him with a very favorable view of the country.
“They’re very business-minded, their (economy) is very well off,” he said. “We are basically there to keep the bad guys out ... The people are very positive and respectful.”
Schmid’s time in Kuwait was his fourth deployment, which is never quite the same as the previous deployment, he said.
“Every trip is different,” he said. “There’s different soldiers with different reactions ... I have 34 years in now so I know what to look for.”
Schmid said the PA National Guard has learned to adapt into an organization which teaches young soldiers all about returning to civilian life and the options available to them.
“We teach them to how to be careful,” he said.
But for the returning soldiers Friday, the only thing on their mind for the moment was enjoying the moment.
“I am so glad to back here,” Imholte said.