In the 1970s, people sang along with Tony Orlando and Dawn to the song, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree."

It was a common practice back then, remembered Carla Darrah, to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree when your military person left for deployment, and leave it there until they made their safe return.

So, earlier this year in January, when Darrah’s daughter’s boyfriend, Josh Dillon of Ames, left for a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan, Darrah put a big yellow ribbon around the trunk of the tree that sits right in front of her house on Seventh Street. "I didn’t know if they did that anymore, but I did it," she said. "My sister made it (the ribbon) for me."

That ribbon made it through a snowy winter and a very wet early spring, all the way into November, to greet Dillon as he returned to Iowa this past week, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Dillon came to Darrah’s home the day before Thanksgiving to cut down the ribbon. He was glad to be back in Nevada spending time with the Darrahs. "I’m dating the daughter, and in love with the mom," he joked about Carla and her daughter, Natalie, a 2009 graduate of Nevada High School. She and Dillon met at a birthday party for a mutual friend four years ago.

"He loves me for my Scotch-a-roos," Carla Darrah joked back.

Dillon said the best part of returning from Afghanistan is seeing everyone he loves. "And having time to relax," he said. He will soon get back to school and work. He attends classes at DMACC and works as a leasing agent at the South Duff Community Park in Ames. Dillon is part of the 833rd Engineer Company, which embarked on its third deployment in January 2013. They conducted more than 200 route clearance missions, cleared more than 12,000 kilometers of Afghan roads and had an IED find-and-clear rate of over 75 percent. The company helped to conduct 10 decisive Afghan operations, eliminate over 70 IEDs and discover numerous weapons caches throughout the Uruzgan province, as reported in the welcome home program.

As he cut down the ribbon in front of the Darrah home, there were smiles and thanks that the soldier this family loves came home safe. "Not only did he come home safe," Darrah said, "but the whole troop did."