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February 3, 2014

51 National Guardsmen return from Afghanistan

NORMAN — Families were reunited Sunday in Norman as 51 Oklahoma Army National Guard troops returned home after a deployment in Afghanistan.

Detachment 1 Bravo Company 2-149 spent about seven months actually in Afghanistan in several different locations, but were deployed around 11 months with training, said Col. Jon Harrison, State Aviation officer. The group was a helicopter company.

The detachment moved a lot of equipment and a lot of people from the forward operating bases to major operating bases and were involved in troop movement across the battlefield, Harrison said.

Capt. John Pollard, who returned home Sunday, said they flew Chinook missions while they were in Afghanistan.

“That would be anything from hauling cargo, personnel, sling loads – we had dignitaries we had to be responsible for,” Pollard said. “We’re very successful.”

Pollard said they flew about 5,000 hours completing missions. During their time spent there they carried 10,000 passengers, 50,000 pounds of cargo and 500 sling loads, he said.

With his daughter in his arms, as well as his other daughter and wife nearby, Pollard said it felt great to be home.

“Couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Another returning soldier, Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2) Zechariah Smith, said he had been deployed in Afghanistan for a total of 16 months. Smith went on back to back deployments to Afghanistan with about 30 days of a break in between.

“It’s been a long road for the family so I’m glad to be home. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to getting back and playing with the kids,” Smith said as his family surrounded him Sunday.

The detachment was originally scheduled to return home at 2 p.m. near Lexington Sunday, but due to inclement weather their return was delayed until 5 p.m. and moved to the National Guard facility in Norman.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

 

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