Rebekah LaDue, shown here in November 2008 at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, is scheduled to arrive home from military duty in Hayden at 1 p.m. today.

File photo

Rebekah LaDue, shown here in November 2008 at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, is scheduled to arrive home from military duty in Hayden at 1 p.m. today.

2 Hayden residents to return from Iraq duty

Airman to arrive at YVRA today; police chief delayed

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— A couple of Hayden's military members are making their way back from Iraq.

Air Force Airman 1st Class Rebekah LaDue is scheduled to arrive at 1 p.m. today at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch, who is serving in the Air Force Reserves, is expected to reach town early next week.

LaDue's mother, Cindy LaDue, owns RedClay in Hayden. She plans to greet her daughter at the airport with family members and friends.

Anyone who would like to welcome Rebekah is welcome to join the group. Rebekah LaDue's sister Sarah Chaney said she would be there and ready to celebrate her sister's return.

"If they can, my friends are going to try to be there and make a whole big thing about it," Chaney said.

The family is planning a belated Christmas celebration. They'll do a "Grinch" gift exchange, a family tradition. They wrap goofy gifts, open them and trade around.

"I still have the Christmas tree up," Chaney said. "It looks awesome."

Chaney and her husband, Ben, have a new baby for LaDue to meet. Ryle Chaney was born Dec. 12. The Chaneys have another son, Lincoln, and a daughter, Jaylah. Sarah Chaney said she moved a bed into Jaylah's room for Rebekah.

Her daughter is excited to see her aunt, Chaney said.

"I called Bekah because Jaylah was saying, 'I sure like Aunt B a lot, I sure do. Is Aunt B coming? Is Aunt B in Iraq?'" Chaney said.

Rebekah LaDue had been at Joint Base Balad in Iraq since August, and stress-related migraines put her in a military hospital in December.

The family aims to make the most of her two weeks in Hayden.

"We're all kind of planning to take a vacation," Chaney said.

Birch will stick around longer. The chief was scheduled to arrive today, but he was delayed, Town Manager Russ Martin said. Birch's wife, Marlene, is scheduled to pick him up Saturday in Colorado Springs, Martin said. Birch could be in Hayden in a week.

"At that point, we're looking at an open house about a week later," Martin said.

Town officials want to give Birch time with his family, he said. Martin wasn't sure what the open house would entail.

The American Legion Ladies Auxiliary wanted to schedule its Valentine's Day dinner around Birch's arrival, but the group canceled the dinner because of uncertainty about when the chief would get home, Legionnaire Ron Nereson said. He isn't sure what the Legion will do to honor Birch's return.

"I'm sure that we would miss a huge opportunity if we didn't welcome him home with some kind of a grand deal," Nereson said.

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