Hundreds welcome returning Oklahoma National Guard soldiers
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Sunday, April 08, 2012
4/08/12 at 8:35 AM
Read all the homecoming
stories on the 45th
OKLAHOMA CITY - Every time Brenda Teehee saw one of the Oklahoma National Guard homecomings over the past several weeks, she knew her daughter was still overseas.
"We watched that on TV and we just keep waiting and waiting," Teehee said. "Now, this is it. It's good."
Teehee was there with several family members to greet Pfc. Jamie Gann of Tahlequah, who was one of 84 soldiers from the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team who returned Saturday. The group was the last large group of soldiers to return to the state after a more than 10-month deployment to Afghanistan and Kuwait.
Nearly all of the 3,000 soldiers who deployed last summer are back in Oklahoma.
Most of the soldiers who returned Saturday were from the 160th Field Artillery, based in Chandler. They served in Kuwait with about 800 other soldiers. About 2,200 soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan at the same time.
While waiting was hard for Teehee, it was more difficult for Gann, who was deployed less than a month after she returned from basic training. She has essentially been away from her two children for more than a year and a half.
Gann, who is a medic with the guard, signed up for the guard as a way to help pay for college, Teehee said.
But, Teehee always saw the dedication and desire to serve in her daughter.
"I knew it was something she wanted to do," Teehee said. "She wanted us to be proud of her and her kids to be proud of her."
Her kids, Talen, 7, and Jordan, 9, were also there to finally hug their mother. Talen and his cousin Jaydun, 7, were both wearing their own miniature Army uniforms that Gann got for them.
"He was wanting to come up last night," said Matt Teehee, Jaydun's dad and Gann's brother. "He was talking about it all the way up here."
Hundreds of other family and friends of returning soldiers packed the hangar at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base to greet them Saturday morning. It was that support from family that helped the soldiers through the difficult and dangerous deployment.
"After 16 or 18 of these ceremonies, I never get tired of welcoming these soldiers home," said Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, adjutant general for Oklahoma. "You have earned this welcome home. You've done a tremendous job and I'm so proud of you."
Deering also acknowledged the soldiers who did not receive that greeting. Fourteen were killed last summer and fall in Afghanistan.
Deering cautioned the soldiers to take it easy and work their way back into civilian life after the deployment. The reintegration process, he said, is just that - a process.
"It began when you stepped foot in Gulfport, Miss., back on U.S. soil," Deering said. "It will end when you decide it ends."
Greeting her family, Gann struggled to describe her feelings when seeing her family, and all the support she received from them.
"It was breathtaking," Gann said. "There is no better place than Oklahoma."
Original Print Headline: More soldiers are home
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Madison McDaniel of Chickasha holds a sign for her father's arrival at a homecoming ceremony Saturday in Oklahoma City. ALONZO J. ADAMS / for the Tulsa World
Oklahoma National Guard Pfc. Jamie Gann hugs her family after a homecoming ceremony for members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Oklahoma City at the Air National Guard Base on Saturday. ALONZO J. ADAMS / for the Tulsa World