Bittersweet homecoming for Ind. National Guardsmen

(CBS News) GARY, Ind. - Nearly a year ago, the Indiana National Guard's 713th Engineer Company deployed to Afghanistan on a dangerous mission: to clear roadside bombs.

Today, most of them came home.

It's been a year since Amanda Rackowicz has seen her brother Sgt. Clinton Jordan. Today, he and the 713th Engineer Company returned from war.

"I can't see him," she said nervously as the soldiers walked in.

She had a special delivery for her brother -- his new nephew, 7-month-old Brayden.

"He's home, and that's all I can ask for,"

These men have spent the last year clearing land mines in Afghanistan.

"All the times, talking about this day, it's finally here," Jordan said.

But, six of his friends were not as lucky. They were killed.

"You lose one person like that," specialist Doug Rachowicz said. "It's an absolute travesty, but to lose six, it's catastrophic."

Doug has been home since January. He was driving the truck that detonated a roadside bomb and killed four of the guardsmen.

"I don't remember anything," he said. "It's a double-edged sword. I want to remember, but I don't."

For nearly a month, Doug lay in a coma at Walter Reade National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C. with a broken pelvis, a fractured spine, crushed ankle and a punctured lung.

"I thank God I'm here. I was able to see my son's birth. I was able to be in the States for that, and I was able to see my kids," he admitted. "At the same time I would gladly give my life to bring all four of them back."

Doug was eager to thank the men who saved his life. One of them was Jordan, who saw the explosion from the rear of the convoy.

"Just the not knowing, just the terror," Jordan said. "It was scary."

Specialist Doug Rachowicz embraces his fellow solder and brother-in-law Sgt. Clinton Jordan.
CBS News
Jordan is not only Doug's brother-in-arms -- but his brother-in-law. The last time these men saw each other, Doug was being loaded onto a medical helicopter.

"Come here!" Jordan said. "It's good to see you!"

Amanda also wanted to thank her big brother Clinton for saving her husband.

"Because told me he sat there and he held Doug in his arms," she said. "Words can't express how thankful I am of my brother."

"It's my family coming home," Doug said. "This is my family."

Finally -- back home again in Indiana.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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