Troops Back Home for the New Year

Caitlin Burchill

Updated 4 months ago

2014 will look a lot different for some troops.

A unit of about 150 soldiers arrived back in the states Tuesday after 9 months in Afghanistan.

Caitlin Burchill witnessed their welcome home.

“Welcome home. Happy New Year!,” said Troop greeters at Bangor International Airport who gave these soldiers a well deserved, New Year’s Eve welcome.

It’s been months since these soldiers have been on US soil.

The soldiers I spoke with couldn’t be happier to be back.

“One word. Awesome. Long time coming. I’m just glad to be back. Happy New Year’s, made it through another deployment,” said Sgt. Jeremy Draper from Shreveport, Louisiana.

And boy, were they shocked by the Bangor greeting.

“I never experienced anything like that before, so I had to hold it in, I was like don’t cry. Don’t cry,” said Specialist Ronniasha Vernon.

“I told her it was okay to cry. Just let it all out. It’s a good experience being home and going through so much overseas. It’s just a blessing being back,” said her husband Specialist Craig Vernon.

The two were overseas together. They have two young kids back at home in Louisiana.

For some, this wasn’t their first time overseas.

“This is actually my second deployment…and for people to get out of their beds and to come out here and support us. It makes you feel really good,” said Sgt. Monique Major from Louisiana.

“Seeing the small kids and seeing all the warm people that received us. It makes it worth it because I think for being a US service member, you don’t always see the work that you do until you see the people and it makes you feel good about it. I’m just happy to be home. You guys had me at hello,” said Sggt. Albert Blow from Shreveport, Louisiana.

While the troops were surprised by their greeting here in Bangor, one of them even found a way to surprise TV5 Reporter Caitlin Burchill.

“Will you marry me?,” said Sgt. Lance McGraw.

While Sgt. McGraw didn’t quite get an answer, Burchill can’t thank him and the rest of his unit enough for their service in 2013 and she hopes they do everything they can to enjoy 2014.

“Just to enjoy my family more. Being away from them for so long. It make me realize ain’t nothing like having family to get back to,” said Draper.

“I’m glad to be back. Go home see my family it’s going to be wonderful,” said Blow.

The troops now head to Texas and will hopefully see their loved ones within the next month.