More than 100 Louisiana National Guardsmen are back home after serving nine months in the Middle East.
Today, they were greeted by supporters at the National Guard Armory in Bunkie.
The 1086th Transportation Company successfully traveled more than one million miles in nine different countries, including Syria and Jordan, during their deployment.
After about 700 successful logistical transportation missions, the guardsmen were grateful to be home.
Sergeant Jonathan Soto’s wife gave birth to their child while he was deployed. "I just knew I needed to hurry back as soon as possible with this new addition. I knew I needed to share the love with her," said Soto about his wife.
Sergeant Raymond Smith also welcomed a baby while deployed, and he used his newborn son as inspiration to get him through the deployment. "It was very exhausting. Very! Everyday! But, it was well worth it. We had a good team, a good squad, and we fought through the exhaustion on all our missions. And, we’re very happy to be here," said Smith.
Family members were elated to see their loved ones arrive safely.
"It’s wonderful. I’ve really missed him. It’s good to see his face," said Lauretta Houston about her son Bill.
Davis Brouillette served in the military during the Vietnam era, so he knew his son would make him proud.
"You always worry about danger, but that’s part of the military life, and I felt that he could do it, and he did it proudly," exclaimed Brouillette.
The company transported a combined 130,000 personnel during the deployment, working to support operations in two combat zones: Operation Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve.
"We were targeted only because of the uniform that we wear and the fact that we were supporting some of those sustainment warfighters up north for our freedoms and liberties that we hold dear. But, we knew what we were up against, and we were willing to do whatever it took," explained Lt. Gia Smith.
Heightened international tensions after Friday night’s US, UK, and French strikes against targets in Syria made the company’s safe return home even more significant.
"I think it’s a reminder to all of us that this is the business we’re in. We’re ready for federal mission state mission and that flow of soldiers and airmen off the battlefield, preparing, deploying, re-deploying; that’s just a way of life for all us," explained Colonel Ed. Bush.