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    Florida Guard Soldiers return home after deployment

    Florida Guard Soldiers return home after deployment

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski | Staff Sgt. Chad Butler reunites with his wife, Cassie, and his daughter, Zuri, at...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Shane Klestinski 

    107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Soldiers from the Florida National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, General Support Aviation Battalion enjoyed a reunion with their loved ones at Jacksonville International Airport on April 29, which ended their 11-month deployment.

    The 111th left Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, in June 2016. Before going overseas, the Soldiers spent two months in Fort Hood, Texas, receiving mandatory mobilization training. Afterwards, they went to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, to train with regional allies and support military operations throughout the area.

    The returning Soldiers and their families had waited for this day for a long time.

    “We’re very excited,” said Ginny Cooper, mother of Army Maj. Brian Cooper, commander for Co. D. “His first child was born a few months before he deployed and he’s only seen her walk in videos.”

    Army Staff Sgt. Chad Butler, a fueler who already had the experience of a previous deployment still felt the stress of family separation. April 29 was only the second time he’d seen his daughter since her birth in November 2016.

    “I had to watch my little one grow up over FaceTime for a while,” Butler said. “But, when you’re surrounded by good people, you keep a constant line of communication with your family back home, and you make sure everybody else is doing the same, it’s not so bad.”

    Florida’s returning Soldiers all have their own ways of celebrating their homecoming. Some will take their kids to Disney World, others have cruises to the Bahamas planned, and one Soldier looks forward to doing “a whole a lot of fishin’.”

    However, the most common theme as they unpack and recover from deployment is to reconnect with their family members. According to the 111th’s command team, their Soldiers have earned the right to take time to decompress from nearly a year of sustained military operations.

    “They did an outstanding job,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Reed, referring to the more than 300 soldiers deployed from Florida. “Because our Soldiers were spread out over a wide area, a lot of junior NCOs were asked to fill senior NCO roles. There would be E-5s working in an E-7 capacity in some remote locations, and they just knocked it out of the park.”

    Reed isn’t the only one who feels that way.

    “They hit the ground running and never looked back,” said Army Lt. Col. Alex Harlamor, the 111th’s battalion commander. “Because of that, our mission was an overwhelming success.”



    Date Taken: 04.29.2017
    Date Posted: 05.05.2017 12:15
    Story ID: 232387
    Location: JACKSONVILLE, FL, US 

    Web Views: 1,181
    Downloads: 1