LEMAY, MO (KTVI)-Over 140 Missouri National Guard soldiers were reunited with their families after a year of serving overseas at Jefferson Barracks Saturday morning. That ceremony was just one of four statewide over the weekend.
“Actually, we were told before the deployment,” Stacie Moreno pointed out. “That we would go through in this year what people go through in 20 years of marriage.”
Moreno waited Saturday for her husband, Missouri National Guard Lieutenant Todd Moreno. Outside, busses rolled into Jefferson Barracks, ending a year that separated guardsmen and women from the people who love them. A USO photojournalist captured the day soldiers came home from a military policing mission in Qatar.
“The pictures, they can download them,” said retired Major Victor Frome. “They can do whatever they want. It’s free for them. To them, it means something historical.”
“It’s been a very slow year,” said Angie Wells. She was waiting to see her son, Private Justin Wells.
That long, slow year was capped off by a long, slow couple of hours. Guard soldiers stood throughout the building. The families could see them, but not touch them, until the company was dismissed from duty.
“Welcome to the homecoming ceremony for the 3175th Chemical Company,” announced the mistress of ceremonies.
But, first came the ceremony with a flawless rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It was followed by a mercifully short program.
“3175th Chemical Company,” shouted a commanding officer. “Dismissed!”
In the chaos that immediately followed, parents doted on their children.
“And I love him with all my heart,” said Sterling Hill with his arm wrapped around his son, Specialist Sterling Hill, Junior. “I’m glad he’s back safe. And strong as a bull!”
Specialist Lindsay Lebow held her 2-year old daughter Lexi.
“We gonna go to the park?” Lebow waited for a nod from the little girl. “I imagine we will spend a lot of time at the park.”
Tolighta Morrow was having a tougher time with her 3-year-old daughter Camille. The toddler cried and tried to wrestle free of her mother’s arms.
“I left when she was 8 months,” Morrow said, holding back her own tears. “She doesn’t know who I am.”
Family, who just spent a year holding the fort at home, admitted the deployment was hard for them, too.
“It’s been a struggle,” said Camille`s grandmother, Donna. She took care of the little girl for each of Tolighta’s two deployments. “But, I know God won’t put no more on me than I can bear.”
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