Community welcomes 116th soldiers home

BLACKFOOT — For many members of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team of the Idaho National Guard, being away from their homes and families is not a new experience — several just completed their second or third deployment— but each time coming home is just as sweet.
The community of Blackfoot welcomed home the 116th Saturday night with an informal bonfire and chili dinner. Several guardsmen and their families were in attendance.
"It's amazing to be back home with the wife and kids," Staff Sgt. LeeRoy Cox said. This was his second deployment; his first was in 2004. He returned to Idaho Sept. 13. "It's great there's a lot more community support this time."
Cox has two daughters, ages nine and four. He said the transition coming home the second time went faster, as he and his family knew what to expect from his previous deployment.
The same is true for 1st Sgt. Pete Fitzgerald, who also returned Sept. 13. This was his third deployment in his 22 years in the military. He has three children and this was the second deployment for his two youngest who are certainly glad to have their daddy home.
"I took two weeks off and went back to work," said Fitzgerald, who works as an electrician at State Hospital South. "I've deployed three times and the support has always been amazing."
Blackfoot City Councilman Rich Woodfin, who said many of the returning soldiers or their wives were his students at one point, said it's good to have them home.
"I just think it's wonderful the community got together to do this," Woodfin said. "It's good to have 'em home."