BOISE – Sixty Idaho soldiers are one step closer to being home after serving nearly a year overseas.
“We are very very pleased that everybody is back,” said Idaho National Guard Public Affairs Specialist Colonel Tim Marsano.
The soldiers are from the Company A, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion.
When they arrived late Saturday night in Fort Hood, Texas, Idaho Governor Butch Otter was even there to greet them.
Now, they are one step closer to being home in Idaho.
“It’s great when one of the first things a soldier sees coming off the plane is the governor’s smiling face,” Marsano said.
Before they can come back to Idaho, Marsano said the soldiers will have to complete a list of out-processing duties in Texas and that process should take about a week.
Back in April, KTVB’s cameras caught hugs and tears as loved ones said goodbye to the soldiers.
Then, they watched as the unit left on 8 Black Hawk helicopters for their mission.
For the last 9 months, the troops worked in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Their mission was to transport personnel and equipment through the Afghanistan combat area.
“They were very busy flying all over southwest Asia doing just that supporting our troops on the ground,” said Marsano.
"You can feel the freedom in the air,” said Specialist Jason Broadway as he stepped off the plane in Texas Saturday. “Can’t you just feel the freedom bubbling around you?”
Col. Marsano who has also been deployed overseas several times, echoed that same sentiment.
“When you come back to the United States you see sometimes people on television kissing the soil, you really do have that feeling,” he said.
He said there are 22 months of deployment left so this same group of soldiers won’t likely go back to Afghanistan.
However, if that changes, Idaho guardsmen and women will answer the call.
“We are standing by ready and willing and able to do anything that we are called upon to do,” said Marsano.
The returning Idaho guard members will arrive on commercial airplanes through the Boise airport when they come back from Texas in one week.
KTVB’s cameras will be there to capture the heartwarming images of these soldiers greeting their loved ones, for the first time in 9 months.