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Rocky Sickmann returned home from Iran to cheers and ribbons 40 years ago

he airport terminal hummed with the happy tension of 4,000 giddy people. Homemade signs bobbed above the crowd. It seemed that everyone, and everything, was festooned in yellow.

The Ozark Air Lines charter jet circled Lambert-St. Louis International Airport so its passengers could see a bright ribbon on the control tower. The DC-9 touched down at 1:35 p.m. on Jan. 28, 1981.

Marine Corps Sgt. Rodney “Rocky” Sickmann, one of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 wrenching days, was back in Missouri.

“Freedom is everything, and we have it,” Sickmann, 23, shouted heartily. The band from Washington (Mo.) High School, Sickmann’s alma mater, belted the theme to the movie “Rocky” and the Marine Corps Hymn. Well-wishers chanted “U-S-A.”

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