Nearly four hundred members of the New Hampshire Army National Guard received a warm welcome at Southern N.H. University’s Field House on Sunday.
The 370 members of the National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment, were deployed to the Middle East to partake in Operation Spartan Shield in January 2015. The goodby ceremony was also held at the same field.
First Lt. Will Arpin said it was actually feeling good to be back in the same seats at the same field where they were around fifteen months ago.
Expressing what he felt, Arpin said, “It was actually good to be back in the same seats that we were in about 15 months ago. I remember feeling kind of scared and anxious prior to that. Being back here again, it just kind of feels like it’s over. We’re done.”
Spc. David Dela Cruz of Manchester said he was able to return home on leave for ten days in August last year to be with his wife Rachael for the birth of their first kid. He said he was very grateful to Arpin and First Lt. John Skiff for making that possible for him.
The citizen soldiers actually returned home several months ago, in three different groups in late December and early January. But, the formal ceremony was scheduled for later to give the soldiers some time to adjust to life back at home.