FORT CALHOUN, Neb. – Iowa Air National Guard 1st Sgt. Drew Wagner was welcomed home at the elementary school where he is the principal following a six-month deployment overseas.
Wagner said that in a small town like Fort Calhoun, the deployment involved everyone in the community.
“They wrapped us up in a big hug while I was away,” the Citizen-Airman said. “There is nothing like coming home to a warm welcome like this.”
Wagner was stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, serving as the first sergeant for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Wagner deployed to Al Dhafra last fall as a member of the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing based in Sioux City, Iowa. He was one of about 50 Iowa Air National Guard members from Sioux City who are now returning from the Arabian Peninsula.
Wagner is the full-time principal in Fort Calhoun and has been serving for 20 years in the Iowa Air Guard, where he is one of the wing’s first sergeants.
Wagner said his jobs as a school principal and first sergeant have always been complementary, and his deployment experience will help him be more successful in both positions.
“People are our business. We want to make sure we take care of people,” Wagner said. “My philosophy is, be there when your Airmen need you.”
This was Wagner’s first overseas deployment since joining the Air National Guard. While he is thrilled to be home, he plans to be on military leave through the end of the school year and resume his duties as principal in the fall.