LEWISTON — With abundant hugs, smiles and tears, families and friends welcomed home 83 soldiers returning from a year tour in Iraq early Monday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

The soliders were part of the 619th Transportation Co., U.S. Army Reserve based in Dexter and Auburn. It was the company’s second deployment to Iraq, and some of the soldiers’ third tour there.

After an escort to the Colisee from police, firetrucks and motorcycles, the soldiers heard a few words from Brig. General John “Bill” Libby, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.

Libby said he had orders from their wives to make his remarks brief. He followed the orders, cautioning the troops they’ve changed, to get help if they need it.

On behalf of the state he welcomed them home and thanked them and their families for their sacrifices.

Sgt. Charles Morin told the transportation unit members they did what they were supposed to do “and made my job easy.” Morin got the biggest cheer when he announced, “Dismissed!”


Reservists and families found each other.

John Rooney of Lewiston was all smiles as he held his 5½ month-old twins, Evelyn and Ethan. It was the first time he’s held them since they were born.

“It feels pretty good,” Rooney said.

Donald Cleaves watched as his returning son, Kevin, hugged Kevin’s daughters, Cheyenne, 12, and Jacki, 15.

Being home was “amazing,” said an emotional Cleaves.

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