See a video, photos and the story from today's welcome home ceremony at the Delaware National Guard's Smyrna Readiness Center.
Nineteen soldiers from the Delaware National Guard's 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade were welcomed home from a year-long deployment to the Middle East today, June 1, at the National Guard's Smyrna Readiness Center.
The soldiers supported Operation Inherent Resolve, serving under the Army's 18th Airborne Corps communications section. They were based in Kuwait with assignments in Syria and Iraq.
They assisted in providing and securing reliable communications within Central Command's Area of Responsibility. This includes network operations support, logistical support, movement and procurement operations. These command and control elements enabled U.S. Joint Services and Coalition forces, consisting of 74 nations, to defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria.
"The Delaware National Guard has a long tradition of expertise in the communications field," said Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard. "This team was hand-picked for this mission and we are thrilled to have them home safely."
"One thing we don't talk enough about is without your expertise and problem-solving abilities, we can't do all the fancy stuff we see on TV as far as special operations," said Timmons. "I am personally very proud of the work you did. Congratulations on a job well done and for continuing the proud legacy of service of the Delaware National Guard."
Specifics accomplishments include:
• Providing computer system support for a Joint and Coalition military headquarters with more than 1,200 users and 5,000 computer systems across five distinct network enclaves. The team helped provide service support to users in Kuwait, Iraq and Syria on a 24-hour basis.
• Overseeing critical implementation of a Technical Control facility relocation within Iraq.
• Securing the strategic communications point of presence for the Camp Taji, Iraq network.
• Serving as communications integrator at Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center.
• Overseeing the resolution of 1,200 authorized service interruptions that enabled the effective command and control of Coalition forces during the liberation of the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa, Syria.
• Orchestrating the movement of almost $3 million worth of mission essential signal equipment in support of five Coalition training facilities.
• Installing a brand new communications base in Syria.
In addition to thanking the soldiers and welcoming them home, Timmons also thanked families and friends for their sacrifices while their loved ones were deployed.
Of the 19 soldiers, 10 were deployed for the first time.
Of the other nine, four deployed for a second time, three deployed for a third time, one deployed a fourth time, and one soldier deployed for the fifth time.
One soldier became a father while deployed and saw his son for the first time when he returned to Delaware.
Gov. John Carney welcomed all the soldiers back home, and he said he now more fully understands what the families and the employers of the soldiers go through.
That's because a member of his staff, Lt. Joe Bryant, was among the 19 soldiers who recently returned.
"I'd pass by his office and think, 'When is Joe coming home?' It seemed like forever," said Carney.
He said while soldiers are deployed, not only are they risking their lives, but they miss dinners with their family, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and their children's sports events.
"So few of us put on the uniform to serve, and the rest of us sleep under the blanket of security that you all provide," Carney said.