Home to a hero’s welcome

By Joelyn Hansen and Keith Rydberg/Daily Sun staff writers
Monday, June 25, 2007 9:51 AM CDT

LINCOLN – As Calleen Hartig and her boys, Dalton, 8, Quintin, 7, and Collin, 5, waited outside the stadium at Haymarket Park in Lincoln Sunday morning, they kept a close watch on the horizon.

The Beatrice family was tingling with anticipation as they waited for the Patriot Guard and the bus carrying her husband, National Guard Sgt. 1st Class John Hartig, to pull into the parking lot on Sunday.

Jamie Vater shares a homecoming kiss with husband Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Vater of Beatrice after he arrives in Lincoln Sunday morning. Photo by Jane White, Daily Sun staff

The Hartigs were among the thousands of people crowding outside the stadium, waiting to welcome home about 250 Nebraska National Guardsmen from the 1-167th Cavalry and 134th Infantry (Long-Range Surveillance) after a 22-month deployment.

As the time for reuniting soldiers and families approached, the parking lot contained a spectrum of colors and emotions: people lining the streets holding flags, Lincoln fire trucks flying the United States flag high in the air and family and friends dressed in red, white and blue grasping handmade signs welcoming the guardsmen home.

The last time Hartig saw her husband was exactly a year ago when he was on leave from Iraq.

“It’s kind of weird to think you haven’t seen him in one year,” she said.

Eager to have him home, Hartig said she hardly slept Saturday night.

Yet, she still awoke early Sunday morning to check on her coffee shop, Breakaway Coffeehouse on South Sixth Street, and ensure she and the children would be on time to watch the buses roll into Lincoln.

It was a crazy morning, but there wasn’t any other place she would rather be, she said.

“There’s so much emotion and anticipation,” Hartig said as she waited for her husband.

No stranger to deployments, Hartig said this was the third deployment her family has experienced in their 11 years of marriage – two deployments for him and one for her, said Hartig, a Nebraska Army National Guard veteran herself.

“Out of 11 years of marriage, we’ve been actually together about five,” she said.

Read the rest at the Beatrice Daily Sun.


~ by Brad Edwards on June 26, 2007.

One Response to “Home to a hero’s welcome”

  1. Brad

    We’re releasing a CD about Vietnam (including a tune about PTSD from the spouse’s perspectiive) and we’re trying to get the word out.

    ‘I think the wives, children and grandchildren of every Vietnam veteran should hear these tunes.. I know every veteran, on hearing these songs… will say the same thing I did: There it is, man.’
    Charles ‘Doc’ Newcomb, Marine, videographer, screenwriter

    Our CD – SELECTOR SWITCH ON (ROCK AND ROLL) – will soon hit the internet (CDBaby.com and iTunes) and will be available at the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, at Record and Tape Traders in Baltimore, and at Politics and Prose in DC in a few days.

    You’ll see we’re donating more than half the proceeds from sales on this CD to the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund to go directly to providing support and services to veterans of the Iraq war.

    The CD features music that was recorded fifteen years ago but never released.

    Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) has agreed to help us promote this music. Keith King is National Public Affairs Chair at VVA. Feel free to contact him via e-mail (info@KeithKingAssociates.com) or by phone (313-446-6885). The 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial falls on Veterans Day, 2007.

    Any way you can spread the word, we’d appreciate it.

    Our song LOADED GUN is here:

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