The first wave of 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion members are glad to be home after six months on a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.
Family, friends and supporters greeted the first four returnees when they arrived at Austin Straubel Airport at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
All 64 unit members in Bosnia are expected home by mid-July.
“It feels great,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steve Dutch of Green Bay. “It’s taking me a little bit of time to adjust to the fact that this is finally over.”
Dutch said his unit spent much of its time talking to people and reporting on what they saw.
“There was not a whole lot of damage where I was,” said Dutch, who was stationed halfway between Tuzla and Sarajevo.
“But we did see some districts where there was evidence of ethnic cleansing — all the homes were burned out or demolished in various ways. It was grim.”
His wife, Shawn, said she was exhausted after preparing for her husband’s return.
Families of the 432nd reservists supported one another during the overseas mission through regular meetings, and by having pizza and skating outings, she said.
“As far as I am concerned, this pin doesn’t come off until everybody’s home,” Shawn said, pointing to a yellow 432nd button on her lapel.
Capt. Matt Fellinger of Appleton, who returned to his wife, Lynn, and their three young children, had simple plans on the agenda.
“I’m just going home. I might have to take a walk around the block,” he said.
Seeing her husband walking through the airport with two of their children in tow, Lynn said “I’m looking forward to seeing that again.”
Green Bay Press-Gazette
June 16, 1996
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