AKRON - It's home sweet home for 180 Army National Guard soldiers from Northeast Ohio. They are now sleeping in their own beds after serving in Afghanistan for a year. Saturday afternoon they received a hero's welcome home.
With the Army Band playing and an anxious crowd proudly waving small American flags the soldiers from the 1484th Transportation Company were welcomed home at Rhodes Arena on the campus of the University of Akron. "It's great to be back, missed everybody. It's a wonderful homecoming to see everybody out there in support," said Sgt. Brandon Watson of Barberton.
Among the friendly faces was Sgt. Watson's grandfather, a World War Two veteran. "It's extremely important that we show our appreciation unlike some of our brothers in Vietnam. This is important for their mental capacity and just their well being that they're appreciated," said Wayne Ault.
The soldiers were away for one year. They were deployed in June 2011. Sgt. Watson, a Barberton police officer, carried his badge with him everyday in Afghanistan. His boss can't wait to have him serving in his other uniform back here at home. "It's wonderful. We miss him so much. Brandon and all his fellow soldier-citizens for everything that's good and great about America," said Barberton Police Chief Vincent Morber.
This was the second tour overseas for the unit. They were also deployed to Iraq in 2004. Now it's all about catching up. "The next few days just spending time at home with the family, the kids, get reacquainted. I missed a lot, so that's the main thing," said Sgt. Watson.
No soldiers from the unit were killed during their year long mission in Afghanistan.
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