Families await Maine Guard unit


AUGUSTA (AP) – Rhonda Colburn has a hand-painted welcome sign on the lawn, yellow ribbons hanging from her house, and a pizza casserole ready to go into the oven. Now all she needs is a phone call announcing her husband is on a bus headed north.

The 129 members of the 152nd Maintenance Company have returned to Fort Dix, N.J., after a yearlong deployment in Iraq and are expected to return to Maine in a matter of days.

Colburn’s husband, Richard, is a chief warrant officer with the 152nd Maintenance, which conducted security and force protection operations to ensure the safety of 14,000 Iraqi nationals, coalition forces and civilians.

Like other families awaiting loved ones, Rhonda Colburn and her sons Chad and Timothy are eagerly anticipating Richard Colburn’s return to their home, which is in Chelsea. “Timothy used all of his carpentry skills that he learned from his Dad to make that sign,” she said.

Together, the Maine Army National Guard and the Air Guard have nearly 700 military personnel mobilized or deployed in support of the war effort.

In addition to the 152nd, which is wrapping up paperwork at Fort Dix, 82 soldiers with the 240th Engineer Group are currently in Afghanistan and a security force of 170 soldiers is preparing to deploy to Iraq with the 172nd Infantry.

In West Gardiner, Scott Grant hopes his brother, Staff Sgt. Tim Grant, and niece, Spc. Sarah Grant, are home from Fort Dix by Friday – in time for auto racing season. He and his brother have been racing a 1983 Ford Mustang for the past few years.

In addition to prepping the car, Grant said a big family party is in the works. “We’ll probably have a family get-together like we always do for birthdays and things,” Grant said.

The last time Grant saw his brother was in August 2005 when he came home on leave for two weeks. “We’re just waiting to hear when they’re coming back,” he said. “We’re hoping it’s soon.”