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Va. Town Embraces Its Heroes

"It's like a dream," said Sgt. James Jones, 53, of Williamsburg, an inspector with the state Transportation Department and a guardsman for 19 years. Eating chicken and spongecake with his wife, Sisley, Jones said he didn't want to think about everything he had seen.

"I just want to put it behind me for now," he said.

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Liz Marshall, 34, of Newport News said she didn't want to go through the separation from her husband, Peter, again, even though he has signed up for six more years. Their reunion in New Jersey "was like our first date," she recalled. "There were periods of silences; it was awkward."

Wednesday, Marshall was reunited with his children -- Justin, 9, and Sara, 6 -- who stared at him with dazed smiles, as though he were a celebrity they'd seen on television instead of somebody they had lived with.

The company's reenlistment rate was about 50 percent, according to Marshall -- "higher than I thought it would be," he said, though lower than the state's 65 percent average.

Some don't have a choice for now. "I've got three more years," said Spec. Greg Seely, 20, of Gloucester. "I'm just tippy-toeing through my contract."

Welcoming her son, Sgt. David Colby, 36, Judy White, 61, of Matthews worried that he and his fellow soldiers would be "on guard all the time," even at home. Many soldiers said they were having trouble sleeping.

Newsom watched her son laugh and hug his way around the armory. "He's the talkative type," she said, "so I hope he talks it out."

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