For some, it was their first overseas deployment. Others had been through it multiple times before. But one feeling was universal among the hundreds of Louisiana National Guard soldiers who returned from Kuwait Wednesday — they were glad to be home.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Bass of Pineville.
“I’m excited,” said Bethany Baudin of Pineville as she waited with her children for her husband, Staff Sgt. Cory Baudin. “It’s definitely a stress reliever.”
More than 160 soldiers from the 844th Engineer Company were greeted by family and friends at England Airpark. The company, based in Pineville with detachments in Ruston and Monroe, deployed 10 months ago.
In separate ceremonies Wednesday, the 1021st Engineer Company was also welcomed home. It also sent more than 160 soldiers to Kuwait.
The 844th completed more than 100 engineering missions, with a value of more than $2 million.
“Our mission was to improve basic infrastructure,” said Capt. Robert Parker, commander of the 844th. “Everything from barracks to roads to airfields. We ended up doing a lot of drainage work because Kuwait had a huge flood, the largest flood they’ve had in 60 years.”
It was the first deployment for Bass, who has three children with his wife, Amber.
“At first, it was hard because it was my first one,” Bass said. “It took some getting used to, but it got easier as time went on. It was tough being away from the kids. My youngest all the time was ‘when are you coming home?’ She didn’t really get it. But we made it through. It’s a lot easier when you have an understanding wife at home who takes care of everything.”
“It’s overwhelming,” Amber Bass said. “Coming in, I was starting to tear up. Emotions are running high right now. I’m just ready for him to be home.”
Staff Sgt. Rayvon Floyd of Deville had deployed overseas once before, but that was 11 years ago, before he had any children. When he stepped off the bus at the Million Air of Alexandria terminal, he was enveloped by his three sons, ages 5 to 9.
“It was slow, but you get through it,” Floyd said of his second deployment. “In some ways, it was easier. In other ways, it was a lot slower.”