The business end of a heat wave that threatens to break records could not stifle the mood at the National Guard Armory on Sunday, as families welcomed home their soldier fathers and sons. Area members of the Iowa Army National Guard’s Dubuque-based companies A and D, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division returned to Clinton, following a welcome home ceremony in Dubuque.

For Joseph Brewer, of Morrison, Ill., a return to the states from a deployment that began last August, home meant welcome relaxation. However, his four daughters may have other plans.

“Our family is complete again,” said his wife, Chelsea. “I need somebody to help out with these four unruly girls.”

Chelsea and her daughters had been patiently awaiting Joseph’s return for months. They even made welcome home signs in anticipation of his arrival, that were put away until they were needed.

On Sunday, Chelsea dug the signs out.

Believing a trip to the water park was in the works, Chelsea’s four daughters accompanied her to Dubuque. Confusion hit when Chelsea presented them with the signs they made months before. Eventually the confusion turned into revelation. Daddy was coming home.

Though the girls were overjoyed at seeing their father again, Chelsea suspects they haven’t forgotten their mother’s deception.

“We’ll probably have to take a trip to the waterpark soon,” she said.

For Joseph, that won’t be an issue. He is looking forward to many things, including returning to work at Clinton Engineering. But spending time with his family is chief among them.

“I’ll definitely throw a few vacations with the family in,” Joseph said.

The Clinton welcome-home event was a result of serendipity. While some sort of activity was planned, the fluid nature of the soldier’s schedules meant nothing could be finalized until the last minute.

“The army is very secretive about when things are going to happen,” Paul Williams, commander of Camanche VFW Tallman-Lewis Post 9664, said. “I got a phone call at 9 a.m. with the details.”

Williams said his VFW post has adopted the local National Guard Unit and helps plan events for soldiers and their families. They had a Christmas party for the families last year, and are planning a more formal welcome home party in September.

Williams said it is important to remember the families of deployed soldiers, as they often provide the will for one to serve.

“They worry more about their family back home than they do about combat situations,” he said. “I’m just proud these guys are back and proud they stepped up to defend America.”

Williams added one more thought, something he tries to say to every soldier.

“Thank you.”