Countless deployed military personnel, first responders and others who protect and serve our country won’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, which gives the United States National Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team all the more reason to cherish their Wednesday homecoming.
About 100 troops in the brigade got to see smiling faces of family members and loved ones that they haven’t seen for nine months. They returned from deployment in Kosovo right in time for the big holiday.
“To be honest, in these past two years, we've spent less than two weeks together so it's been a really long time,” Marcela Maza said about her brother Carlos.
At first, Carlos’ family wasn't sure about him joining the USNG right out of high school. But as they waited for him to break formation at the National Guard’s Kearny Mesa armory so they could wrap him in their arms, they only felt pride and love.
“It feels great. It's been a while and I miss my family, miss my friends and I'm just happy to be back,” Carlos said.
What’s the first thing Carlos wants to do?
“Eat some good food!”
The Maza's were just one of the many families gathered in the armory waiting to get a hold of their brother, sister, father, mother, or significant other.
The buses arrived just before noon. Our soldiers put down their bags and filed into the armory to salute the flag one more time before racing to the embrace of the people they missed most.
“To the soldiers, mission accomplished, outstanding job, you helped keep the peace in the Balkans in a land that's been scarred by violence for many years,” USNG Colonel Nick Ducich told his soldiers.
Col. Ducich reminded the brigade that though they are home, they will still be standing at the ready as their brothers and sisters who are still deployed, some fighting deadly wildfires in their own state, spend time away from their families.