GATE CITY — Bryce Cole Lamb was born a few months after his daddy, James Lamb of Duffield, Va., was sent to Iraq last September.
A member of the Virginia National Guard 237th Engineer Company, James Lamb used his leave time in January to visit his wife Rebecca shortly after Bryce was born.
On Sunday, Lamb got to see his 7-month-old son in person for only the second time. Lamb was among 22 Southwest Virginia members of the 237th Engineer Company to celebrate a homecoming Sunday afternoon at the Gate City National Guard armory.
They were expected to arrive between 4 and 5 p.m., but no one was complaining when the bus pulled into the armory parking lot about a half hour early. The returning soldiers were greeted with a barrage of hugs and kisses accompanied by tears of joy.
James Lamb admitted Sunday that it will take a while to get used to home again after spending almost a year in “a different world.” His plans for Sunday evening were to relax, enjoy a good meal and spend time with family.
“It feels great (to be home) but I’m kind of shocked right now,” Lamb said. “It’s part of the reintegration, it just feels odd. It’s a different world, so I’ll just have to kind of start over and and try to reintegrate again.”
The returning soldiers arrived shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sunday and visited with family and friends until around 5 p.m. when the homecoming ceremony started. Several local dignitaries participated in the ceremony and offered a few words including Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City), Maj. Gen. Claude Williams (retired), Gate City Mayor Mark Jenkins and the Rev. Strother Smith prior to dismissal of the soldiers.
Williams invited the family members of the returning soldiers to stand and give themselves a round of applause for giving the soldiers in Iraq love and support while keeping things going on the home front. He said he knows Scott County and Southwest Virginia are proud to welcome the solders back from Iraq “safe and sound.”
While in Iraq the 237th Engineer Company conducted route clearance missions including clearance operations, patrols and searches for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along main and alternate supply routes.
“It’s a horrendous place where they’ve just been,” Williams said. “I was there myself. Just being there is bad enough, but when you’re out on the highway trying to make the roads safe and dealing with IEDs and the bad guys who are there you can imagine what a toll that takes on you — day in and day out.”
The danger was in evidence Sunday at the armory, as following their dismissal each of the 22 returning soldiers got into a line and hugged a tearful Heather Spencer of Grundy, Va. Spencer, who was also invited to sit at the podium with the speakers during the ceremony, was the fiance of Sgt. David Lamber who was killed in an IED explosion on Oct. 26, 2007.
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