Families, fellow soldiers welcome Oklahoma guardsmen home from AfghanistanBY ANDREW KNITTLE
NORMAN — About 40 members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were welcomed home Saturday morning by family and fellow soldiers at the Norman Armed Forces Reserve Center.
Officials with the Oklahoma Army National Guard said the soldiers, who were serving in Afghanistan, are the first of a dozen groups set to return to Oklahoma over the coming months as part of a demobilization process.
Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the state's adjutant general, told the returning men and women to “absorb being home” and to be careful while celebrating their homecoming with friends and family.
“If you got a motorcycle, stay off of that thing for about 30 days,” Deering said. “Reintegration is not an event, it's a process.”
Deering, whose son serves in the military, said he understands the perspective of the worried family member as well as he does the soldier's.
“These families are part of what we are and who we are,” he said. “Families, we can't do what we do without you.”
Many of the troops had family members waiting at the reserve center on the freezing Saturday morning.
Tearful reunions were plentiful.
Spc. Kale Williams, of Edmond, was greeted by his fiancee, mother, older brother and other loved ones.
Williams, 22, said the most difficult part of being away from his soon-to-be wife and family is the lack of regular communication.
“When you're out there, alone on some mountain, it gets lonely,” he said. “Not being able to speak to them when I want to is hard.”
A scout while he's in combat, Williams said roadside bombs — probably the most notorious killer in the two wars — continue to haunt U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Every time you got in a truck, it was a big surprise,” he said. “So, I'm looking forward to hanging out with my family and friends … getting back to normal.”