Posted: Sept. 9, 2009


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

A return to civilian life is three weeks away for some soldiers in the Delaware Army National Guard after almost a year in Iraq. In the case of JAG Capt. Beau Biden, the homecoming also will catapult him back into an intensifying political life.

Invitations are out for the ceremony to welcome home 109 members of the 261st  Signal Brigade, a Smyrna-based unit that handles communications and information systems.

The return is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m., in Dover on Legislative Mall in front of the John Haslet Armory.

"It's much, much better than the departure ceremony," said Major General Frank Vavala, the adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard.

For Biden, politics will be ready to intrude, competing with the adjustments and catching up he has to do for the time elapsed since the unit was mobilized on Oct. 2. He left as a Democratic attorney general not halfway through his four-year term and his father running simultaneously for vice president and senator.

Barred from politics while on active duty, Biden has not been able to say a word about the expectations that have mounted while he was gone.

Joe Biden is the vice president. Ted Kaufman, the appointed senator who is a close political adviser to both Bidens, is not going to run. Congressman Mike Castle, the best candidate the Republicans have for a Senate race, still is uncommitted.

It leaves the Senate seat beckoning for Beau Biden.

First he has to get back. Vavala, who praised him as "one stand-up young man," said the return from Iraq will begin with a move to Kuwait, then a flight to McGuire Air Force Base and demobilization at the adjoining Fort Dix in New Jersey. The administrative and medical checkout will last five to seven days before the arrival in Delaware.

"We bring them back on a bus, they reunite with their families, and the citizens of Delaware get an opportunity to express their appreciation," Vavala said.

"Hopefully they get on with their lives."

It is as certain as it can be, which for the military, like politics, is not very certain. The invitation to the homecoming cautions, "Date and time subject to change by the U.S. Army."