Today is the day Wisconsin National Guardsmen and women and their families have been waiting more than a year for. 30 soldiers with the 232nd Military Intelligence Company returned home from Afghanistan and arrived at the Madison Armory around 1:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
The signs were up and the families were down at the armory, eagerly awaiting the safe return of their loved ones from Afghanistan. Mary DeZee was waiting for her husband and says, "it's a wonderful day, we've been waiting a long time." The 30 members of the 232nd left last year, and all 30 arrived home safely where they were greeted with cheers, waving flags and long awaited hugs.
Now that Sgt. Darrell Scace is home, he's got a lot of catching up to do. Sgt. Scace says, "oh, it's wonderful. it's great to be home with my 2 daughters and my wife." Fighting back tears, his wife Mary says, "we're just trying to get back to normal, when he left she was a week old and our daughter was one, so just trying to get back into the swing of things."
While deployed Northwest of Kabul, the 232nd performed military intelligence operations. Now those soldiers are just looking forward to one thing. Sgt. Scace says, "I'm going to take a couple weeks off initially and then we're going to go down to Florida. She wants to go to the castle, she doesn't let daddy forget." Sgt. Daniel Sampson greeted his daughters and grandson and says he's looking forward to ,"resting, so rest for a few days and hang out with my family." Sgt. Joshua Herritz is also happy to see his family. He says, "just spending time with my family, I mean, that's really the thing that you miss the most while you're over there. So I just want to spend a good solid week just being with them."
Each soldier says they will miss the camaraderie they felt during their deployment, but are glad to be back home with family, with a sense of accomplishment. Sgt. Herritz says, "I feel like what I did over there is going to actually carry over even into the next group. Some of the work that I did will be influential for years to come." Sgt. Scace says, "we're making a difference, we're helping build schools um more power, so yah, we're doing a lot of difference over there." Leaving behind signs of hope in a war torn country, long after the welcome home signs come down and they reacquaint with loved ones.
Nearly 10% of the Wisconsin Army National Guard is deployed overseas. Now that the 232nd is home, another unit is gearing up to take its place.