Third time’s a charm as Delaware National Guard unit returns home

On a picture perfect September day the 153rd Military Police Company of the Delaware National Guard returned home Saturday from their perfect mission to Afghanistan.

The unit was welcomed by friends and family on the Governor Bacon parade field in Delaware City where the unit is based. The mission was seen as near-perfect because the unit was able to end a 12 month mission eight weeks early in training Afghan soldiers.

The 153rd was sent to train Afghan units in security operations, such as, setting up roadside check points, securing buildings, and walking patrols.

“Clearly, the 153rd was capable of handling Afghan mission, as they did the job and returned home after nine months,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard.  “They were well-trained, well-led and fully prepared.”

It was the third time for many of these soldiers to Afghanistan. It is likely to be their last. With military operations winding down in 2014 it is unlikely they will return to that country if they are called upon for active duty again.

This tour of duty was a special one for SPC Luis Toledo-Reyes. The Delaware resident and native of the Dominican Republic was one of 150 soldiers who became U.S. citizens in a 4th of July ceremony at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. He’ll now get to spend time with his new wife and child.

Governor Jack Markell and Delaware’s two U.S. Senators were joined by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden in greeting the returning soldiers. Hundreds came with cheers and home made signs for the soldiers.

The 153rd spent the last 10 days at Ft. Dix in New Jersey as part of their demobilization process. That is also where First caught up with the unit last January when they were training for their Afghan mission.

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