AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Families celebrated the return of a Colorado Army National Guard unit.
Nearly 70 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 135th Aviation Regiment arrived at Buckley Air Force Base Wednesday morning. The soldiers have spent the past year in Afghanistan.
There were signs showing excitement and flag-waving families excited to see their loved ones return home.
For a year the Bravo Company operated the huge Chinook helicopters, moving troops and equipment in Afghanistan.
But for all the joy, it was also a solemn occasion. Chief Warrant Officer David Carter didn’t return.
“He was the heart and the soul of our Colorado company,” a soldier said.
Carter was piloting a Chinook when it went down in the first week of deployment.
“And yet you soldiered on and the accomplishments you made happen; you make us to very, very proud,” Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards said.
Brothers, like the Stockers, said Afghanistan wasn’t easy.
“It was scary, not going to lie; almost got hit with rockets two days before we were supposed to come home,” Micah Stocker said.
There was much praise Wednesday morning for the brave soldiers, but the families also endured one long, tough year.
“The toughest year ever, but it couldn’t be more worth it. We’re so proud of him,” the wife of a guardsman said.
The message to the soldiers was “Be Proud of Yourselves.”
“Whenever someone asks you about your year in Afghanistan and what you’ve done, you look them in the eye and you hold your head high and you say that you made a difference,” Cpt. Anthony Morrison told the soldiers.