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NEWS | April 8, 2002

Members of 224th Aviation return home

By Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter III | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The first of two groups of Virginia Army National Guard soldiers returned to the Commonwealth and to loved ones from Bosnia-Herzegovina on April 6, 2002. Approximately 60 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation returned home after almost seven month of demanding duty in support of NATO's Stabilization Force mission in the Balkans.

Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, The Adjutant General of Virginia, was on hand to greet the returning soldiers and congratulate them on their superb performance in support of the Dayton Peace Accord since October 2001. The majority of these citizen-soldiers left the Commonwealth for Fort Dix, New Jersey and then on to Bosnia-Herzegovina late last summer. With the NATO Stabilization Force mission behind them, the soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation celebrated the reunion with their families.

Sgt. First Class Christopher F. Palus of Gloucester, Va. brought warmth to the cold Southern Spring day that the Sun and blue skies called for. Palus, a platoon sergeant for the aviation maintenance platoon of 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation and in civilian life a trainer at the US Army Aviation School, Fort Eustis, Va., was united with his wife, Lisa, also a trainer at Fort Eustis, their son Alex and daughter Kristina.

Their reunion brought warmth to the day that the weather had not otherwise provided for. That reunion spoke of the promise of spring and the relief from worries and fear of the unknown. That relief seems apparent on Lisa's face in the family reunion picture taken when Christopher, Lisa, Alex and Kristina gathered in front of the bus that brought him home from Ft. Dix.

Not withstanding the sacrifices made by the Palus family, Sergeant Palus spoke of the contributions he and his fellow soldiers made to the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina while they were there building a future for the children of that country. These citizen soldiers not only assured that the aircraft of Task Force Pegasus were ready to meet the demands of the mission, but also reached out to the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina as they worked in local schools and orphanages.

Chief Warrant Officer Marvin McKenney, his wife Kelly and their daughter Tylar of Midlothian, Va. were also reunited in Sandston on this early Southern Spring day. And just as this Southern spring day offers the promise of growth and hope, so does this reunion. This family has given so very much so that the people of the Balkans, as well as the rest of us, may know a life free from fear and tyranny. But right now, clearly the most important issues is that this family which has already given so much to all of us through their sacrifice is now together. That reunion, as does the reunion of all of these families, offers the promise, hope and potential of a bright, sunny Virginian spring day

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