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franklin county times

Guardsmen return home from Iraq

By Staff
238TH RETURNS Staff Sgt. Don T. Wiggins, a member of the Mississippi Air National Guard's 238th Air Support Operations Squadron, kisses his daughter, Kylie Anne, while he holds his other daughter, Dixie Leigh, after returning home Monday from Iraq. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 15, 2004
Excitement and anticipation escalated for hours at the Meridian Regional Airport on Monday as friends and family waited for loved ones to return from the war in Iraq.
Six members of the Mississippi Air National Guard's 238th Air Support Operations Squadron were due at 1:20 p.m. on a flight from Atlanta. But delays with customs in Germany and bad weather in the United States postponed their arrival until about 6:30 p.m.
At the airport, Kathy Taggart said she was waiting on her best friend, Senior Airman Mitchell R. Lewis Jr., to come home.
Lewis' father said he was happy and relieved his son was coming home. He waited for the plane with another father, Don Wiggins, whose son, Staff Sgt. Don T. Wiggins, also was on the flight.
The other members of the unit who returned Monday were Lt. Col. Marc D. Wilson, Senior Master Sgt. James T. Brown, Senior Airman David C. McCarra and Senior Airman Christopher Stone.
A large crowd of friends and family welcomed the members of the 238th home. They cheered from the time the plane came into view in the sky until it taxied up the runway and the people they waited for stepped off.
The crowd waved flags, ran to greet their loved ones in the airport terminal and held them tight when they reached each other.
The 238th members left Meridian on Feb. 26 for Ft. Hood, Texas, before going to Iraq. The squadron coordinates air strikes between ground and air forces.
While in Iraq the squadron members were part of the 9th Air Support Operations Squadron that was aligned with the U.S. Army's 1st Calvary Division.
Senior Airman Lewis said he was looking forward to going back to work with his father, a home builder and contractor.
The tour was the first for Lewis in Iraq.
It also was the first for Staff Sgt. Wiggins, who was smothered with hugs and kisses in the airport from his father, his wife Jena, small daughters, Dixie and Kylie, and other family members.

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