Thursday, January 13, 2011
A group of Kansas National guard soldiers are finally home after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. The Agri-Business Development Team arrived at the armory in South Wichita this morning.
Just over 60 of these soldiers from the Air Force and Army have been in Afghanistan for the last year teaching the Afghani people new ways and technologies about making their own food source. Today's welcome home ceremony is obviously a big relief.
"Job well done. Mission complete. You are dismissed!" said Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli.
And with that, anxious spouses and children rush to their loved ones. For SFC Paul Heater, it has become almost routine. His wife Abigail gave birth during the deployment. You could sense the wear and tear in his face.
"This is my third deployment. I'm glad to be home. It is a relief," Heater said.
The Agribusiness development team works with Afghan leaders to help increase agricultural production and improving the safety of the country's food source.
"Food security is paramount to the future of Afghanistan," explained Commander Michael Dittano. "Their population is growing and they have to be able to grow food sufficient to meet the needs of their people."
Dittano also says the program helps the United States win friends and influence the Afghan people.
"So Kansas soldiers with agricultural experience go out there and enable the government to develop the farm industries in Afghanistan."
These soldiers have been gone since January of last year and, for their spouses who have tended to the home while they've been gone, life will hopefully return to normal very soon.
"It's fantastic!" exclaimed Stacy McDade, wife of Brandon McDade. "I can't explain it. Being by myself for a year, it's great to have him home now."
"On behalf of a grateful state and nation, we say welcome home to Kansas ADT2," Tafanelli said during the ceremony.
The ADT is the second of five teams that are being sent to Afghanistan in partnership with Kansas State University. The third team is already in place in the Laghman Province of Eastern Afghanistan.