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Dwight Jett, a lieutenant colonel with the 1169th Alabama National Guard Engineering Group, with his mother, Patty, and niece Olivia Farris on Wednesday at the National Guard Armory in Huntsville upon his return to Alabama after being deployed in Iraq.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Dwight Jett, a lieutenant colonel with the 1169th Alabama National Guard Engineering Group, with his mother, Patty, and niece Olivia Farris on Wednesday at the National Guard Armory in Huntsville upon his return to Alabama after being deployed in Iraq.

Jett returns from Iraq deployment

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com · 340-2432

HUNTSVILLE — Dwight Jett Jr. joked with his wife, Karen, that he may not want back his seat on the Decatur City Board of Education.

She shot back that she might not give it back.

The two had reason to joke and laugh Wednesday as Lt. Col. Dwight Jett and Maj. James Pugh of Eva returned home from Iraq along with about 60 fellow members of the 1169th Engineering Group of the Alabama National Guard. They received a celebratory welcome at Huntsville's National Guard Armory.

Jett had spent the past 131/2 months dodging bullets and helping rebuild Iraq. Returning to the school board and re-opening his law practice may have to wait while Jett gets reacquainted with his wife and family.

“What used to normal became abnormal, but then that became normal,” Jett said. “Now I’m returning to what is supposed to be normal. I don’t know what normal is now.”

The group left Iraq on Friday, made a pit stop in Kuwait and finally arrived in the U.S. at Camp Shelby in Mississippi on Monday. Karen Jett and Jacquia Pugh were there to greet their husbands.

“I was in tears because I was overwhelmed with excitement,” Karen Jett said.

Jacquia Pugh said her emotions were of relief.

“I always worry when he’s away, but especially with being over there. I just had to trust in God to bring him home safely,” she said.

The two wives had reason to worry. Each man earned a combat action medal after coming under fire in March. They went on about 50 missions. Three of their comrades died in combat, and two more died in accidents.

“We had the best and worst,” Jett said. “Our living conditions were so much better than the World War II vets had. But it was the worst because you could get shot at every time you left the wire.”

Jett and Pugh had a variety of jobs, mostly rebuilding Iraq. They helped clear Baghdad of homemade roadside bombs and built 52 coalition outposts (fortified police stations) as they tried to make Baghdad and its Sadr City district safe.

“It’s much safer than it was when we got there, and the buildup is making a difference,” Jett said.

Jett got to keep his attorney skills sharp, representing the Army Corps on the Joint Detainee Review Committee. One of the cases he reviewed involved the detainees involved in the Fallujah bridge hangings of four private security officers.

Vacation celebration

The Jetts said they would take a vacation after celebrating the birthday of their son, McKenzie. Jett then will return to his law practice. He said he can’t re-assume his school board post until he is released from the Guard on Oct. 15, which is just in time for a board meeting Oct. 18.

Pugh will try to get his company, Pugh Engineering Services, restarted. Both wives work for their husband’s businesses.

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