Calif. National Guard soldiers return; 'I'm so happy to be home'

Published On: Jul 24 2013 07:54:46 AM HST
California National Guard return to Stockton

Melinda Meza/KCRA

More than 100 members of the California National Guard returned to Stockton on Tuesday after nearly one year in Afghanistan (July 23, 2013).


More than 100 California National Guard soldiers have returned home to Stockton after a nearly year-long deployment in Afghanistan

"This is a great day for me," National Guard Spc. Aaron Jenkins said. "(I'm) so happy to be home."

The helicopter unit, 1-126th Aviation Battalion, had been supporting "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan for the past 11 months and four days.

Some soldiers even got to hold their children for the first time since they were born.

Spc. David Rojo was only able to hold his son, Zachary, for 12 hours before he had to return to Afghanistan.

"It’s overwhelming right now to see my son and wife," Specialist Rojo said. "I was able to Facetime a lot, and it helped, but feeling and touching is unbelievable."

Added Lt. Cmdr. Lori Yeager: "I can tell you, when you are there and doing a great mission, you feel satisfied, but you are always thinking of your family. They are the ones who sacrifice and worry and have to hold things together."

The Chinook Helicopter Aviation Unit provided aerial lift support across Afghanistan over the past year.


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