Sen. Ward welcomed back from Iraq

posted by: Jeffrey Wolf , Web Producer created: 2/4/2008 7:31:44 PM
Last updated: 2/4/2008 7:33:15 PM

DENVER (AP) - State Sen. Steve Ward returned to the state Capitol on Monday after serving six months with the Marines in Iraq.

Ward, a colonel in the Reserves, was applause from fellow senators when the clerk called his name during the morning roll call.

The 48-year-old Littleton Republican arrived just in time for the roll call because he said he had forgotten to allow enough time for his commute after getting used to walking or being driven around in Humvees in Fallujah.

Ward also had to go through tighter security at the Capitol's entrances set up after an intruder was shot and killed outside the governor's office. While lawmakers and Capitol employees are allowed to bypass the checkpoint, Ward wasn't sure if anyone would recognize him.

The 48-year-old Republican thanked all those who sent him care packages but said he was especially grateful to everyone who helped his wife and two children while he was away, including a neighbor who shoveled their sidewalk.

He urged people to do the same for families of other service members before he turned out the lamp senators kept on around-the-clock in his honor.

"It's important that we, in a very real sense, keep the light on for them when they're downrange, and let them know that we're going to take care of our families until they get back here," said Ward, who has also served in Afghanistan.

Rep. Joe Rice (D-Littleton) an Army reservist, returned to the House last week after 90 days in Iraq. Ward said they went on patrols together in Baghdad.

Ward said Colorado has more National Guard members deployed now than at any other time in its history. He thanked Gov. Bill Ritter visiting service members from the state in Iraq after the fatal shootings at New Life Church and a missionary program in Arvada in December.

"It meant a lot for them for him to show up and he showed up at a very difficult time in the state," he said.