Soldier returns after 22 months in Iraq

Lori Nickel, Montgomery Messenger

Heroes live among us. Every community has them-soldiers who have risked their lives to fight for our country with freedoms so easily taken for granted.

Within the past couple weeks, several service men and women in the 1st Brigade Combat Team/34th Infantry Division returned home after serving for nearly two years in the Iraq war. Sergeant Steve Tuma, son of Ray and Lois Tuma of Lonsdale and a 2001 graduate of New Prague High School, was one of nearly 5,000 soldiers who are returning to civilian life after serving in the Red Bull National Guard. He arrived back home to his parent's farm on Friday, July 20, after spending 22 months in Iraq. His parents along with his brother Dave, sister Jackie and her husband Mike Groth and children Emma and Isabella, enjoyed a quiet family party to celebrate his safe return on Sunday afternoon. Large billboards in the pasture of the family farm announced his homecoming, implying how proud and relieved they are to have Steve back home.

At age 24, Steve said he always knew he wanted to enlist in the military like his father, uncle and godfather before him. In February 2000, he did just that. He served in Bosnia for a year before being deployed to Iraq in 2005.

Steve was stationed at the Tallil Army and Air Force Base, south of Baghdad, as a convoy commander responsible for link ups, inspections and briefings. As second in command of the convoy, Steve's company was a part of finding 23 roadside bombs; 19 of which were discovered as he rode in the scout truck navigating the roads for bombs as well as for dangerous road and weather conditions. This distinction earned Steve the Bronze Star, a medal awarded for meritorious achievement.

I would stop the convoy for anything suspicious

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