CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – More than 200 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard – the last of nearly 600 deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom – have safely reached United States soil Jan. 1 after completing OEF and enduring a long return flight out of the country and to a transit location in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The soldiers arrived at Camp Shelby, Miss., in time to greet the new year and link up with other Task Force Guam members who had left Afghanistan mid-December. This group already completed demobilization and will commence its return to Guam any day now. This last cluster included battalion commander Lt. Col. Michael Tougher, Command Sgt. Maj. Mel Hennegan, and six of Task Force Guam’s seven company commanders.
[Task Force Guam soldiers from 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, display the Guam flag and island pride Dec. 31 at Manas Transit Center, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, before boarding a flight bound for the United States. This marked the last of Task Force Guam’s departure from foreign soil after completing Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan Dec. 26. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)]
During the latest arrival at the Gulfport International Airport, Miss., the Guam soldiers were greeted by Col. Diron Cruz, chief of staff of the Guam National Guard, Maj. Rickey Flores, Task Force Guam executive officer, and other Guam Guard representatives. Four buses and two transport trucks hauled soldiers and their equipment to Camp Shelby as sporadic fireworks lit up Gulfport to ring in New Year’s Day.
Like their brothers and sisters earlier, the latest contingent will spend a few days at Camp Shelby demobilizing. They’ll undergo medical and administrative processing, as well as return equipment.
Gov. Eddie B. Calvo, governor of Guam, and Maj. Gen. Benny M. Paulino, adjutant general, Guam National Guard, are slated to meet Guam soldiers at Camp Shelby soon.
[Twenty-thousand feet above earth, Capt. Brandon Leigh, left, and Capt. Jeff Pecora of the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Detachment 1 based out of Manas Transition Center, Kyrgyzstan pilot a C-17 Globemaster III carrying close to 150 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, from North Kaia, Kabul, Afghanistan. The Guam soldiers recently completed Operation Enduring Freedom and are en route to Bishkek, Afghanistan, prior to returning to United States soil for demobilization. Holding the “Going Home Task Force Guam” sign is Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Nallay. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)]