150 soldiers arrived last week at McChord Air Force Base. The rest of the brigade is expected to return over the next two weeks. They had been in Iraq since last October. Their missions focused on convoy security, force protection, provincial reconstruction and base operations. They logged more than 3 million miles of travel in Iraq, according to the Army.
State Representative Larry Seaquist, a former US Navy warship captain and Pentagon strategist who completed a 32-year Navy career in 1994, took the time to personally welcome home Washington’s guard members of the 81st, issuing the following statement:
“It is my great honor to welcome home the 3,200 soldiers of Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade.
You are our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives who have served our country overseas with courage and grace.
Before you left for Iraq last October, I had the privilege of visiting some of you at the Yakima training facility as you were preparing to deploy. You were leaving jobs as teachers, fire fighters, and sales managers. Some were preparing to leave behind a pregnant wife or newly born child, others an aging parent. Some of you were young men just starting out in life, some had the grey hairs of men and women who have been through the ropes a time or two already.
One moment that stands out vividly for me was when we spoke of what we could do for you back home while you were deployed. The one thing the few troops I spoke with asked for was a flag that had flown over the state capitol. It made me reflect on how much we ask of our country’s finest, and how little they ask of us in return.
It is my hope that over the days, months, and years to come, we can offer up whatever assistance is needed to help in the transition from active duty to normal life back here at home.
We missed you all and welcome you back with pride and gratitude. To each and every one of you, thank you for your sacrifice and your service.
And we will not forget the ultimate sacrifice of Specialist Samuel Stone who gave his life while serving our nation.
Our National Guard and their families can be very proud of their expert contributions to the security of our nation, as well as the citizens of countries all across the globe.”