Guam- After nearly a year of being away in support Operation Enduring Freedom, 10 soldiers with the Guam Army National Guard Security Forces Advisory Team (SFAT) returned home over the weekend.
Greeted with welcome home signs and loud applause from their loved ones and colleagues last Friday night and Sunday morning, SFAT members cut a yellow ribbon to officially mark their return back to the island and the completion of their deployment to Afghanistan.
The SFAT team, also known as Team Ifit, consists of 13 soldiers that left Guam last year in July. They arrived in Afghanistan in October and served as part of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s contingent of 20 SFATs.
Staff Sergeant Joseph Aquino Jr. says one of the highlights of the deployment was working closely with their Afghan counterparts.
“The highlight of this deployment is being able to work with the Afghans and helping them build their medical operations,” said Aquino. “And just being with the team and doing all of our operations safely, that was the biggest thing for me…to get everyone home safe.”
Lt. Colonel Frank Tominez is the team leader for SFAT. He says this is his second tour of Afghanistan and found their mission to be very rewarding. He mentions they lived, ate and worked with Afghan National partners to help improve security for Afghan civilians. Tominez feels they accomplished their mission and is happy to be home again.
“Yes we were very effective,” said Tominez. “The team that we mentored or the brigade that we mentored is independent without advisory. So it’s a positive aspect of the Guam Army National Guard.”
The last three members of the team are expected to return home later next month.
The SFAT team is one of two Guam Army Guard units that were deployed over the last year. The other unit consists of the nearly 600 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment. They will be returning back to Guam in the early part of 2014.