Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 29, 2013

Approximately 200 Indiana soldiers returned home Thursday

By Jessie Hellmann
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Jeremy Kranz’s friends and family waited ten months for him to come home from Kuwait, and Thursday evening they waited for what seemed like a lifetime for his motorcade to arrive at Crossroads Community Church.

Eventually, sirens and motorcycle roars could be heard in the distance. Flags and a sign reading “Welcome home Master Sergeant Kranz” greeted him as he and his family pulled into the church parking lot where he met an eager community waiting to thank him for his service.

“It’s actually pretty awesome,” Kranz said. “It’s a lot more than I expected. I expected to just come home and go straight to the house and then this happens. It’s definitely nice to feel the support of the community.”

Master Sgt. Kranz served in Kuwait for 10 months working with food services and managing a general supply chain as part of the 38th Infantry Division’s sustainment brigade, which is headquartered in Kokomo.

Kranz and about 200 other Indiana National Guard soldiers with the brigade returned home yesterday and reunited with their families at Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis.

The first wave of soldiers deployed to Kuwait in August and a second wave joined them in January for Operation Enduring Freedom, said Lt. Col. Kevin Vedder, the brigade’s deputy commander.

The brigade provided sustainment support to combat units, which involved providing ammunition, warehouse operations, transporting equipment and performing air drops into remote areas, Vedder said.

He said he is also glad to be home.

“It makes you appreciate the little things, like the people moving freely around. [Kuwait] is a barren desert with little vegetation,” he said. “This is my third deployment, and each return is always meaningful.”

The brigade soldiers will spend the next year transitioning to their civilian lives and preparing the unit for future mobilizations.

Now that Kranz is home, he said plans on catching up on spending time with his two children, Zoe, 4, and Alexis, 14.

“It feels great to be home,” Kranz said. “I’m excited to be back with my kids. It’s just a good thing.”

Kranz’s mother, Deanna Willis, waited for him at Decatur Central High School with his daughters.

“When we saw him march in, I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Willis said. “His girls were with us, so that made it that much more emotional. They were very excited.”