Nighthawks Return From Operation Enduring Freedom Deployment
Approximately 70 Indiana National Guard soldiers with Headquarters Company, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team touched down at the Indianapolis International Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The brigade Soldiers, nicknamed Nighthawks, were in charge of Combined Team Uruzgan that controlled more than 5,000 multinational force members who worked with Afghanistan forces to help stabilize the war-torn country.
Before the soldiers arrived at Stout Field for a homecoming ceremony, Indiana's Adjutant General Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger spoke to the awaiting family members.
"Your fathers, brothers, husbands, wives, sisters and daughters, they performed magnificently over there," said Umbarger, who visited the troops overseas. "They are great Americans; super Hoosiers."
The general also thanked the families for their support.
"You don't wear the uniform, but you serve too," he said.
Michelle Gustafson with her twin two and a half-year-old son and daughter came to show her support for her husband, Master Sgt. Christopher Gustafson, the unit's senior personnel staff noncommissioned officer.
"Everything is great," said Michelle about seeing her husband in person again. "We're going to take a kid-free vacation toward the end of the year; we're looking forward to getting back on track and back to a normal life."
Christopher commented on his return and seeing his children again in person instead of via video calls.
"It's an awesome experience; it's good to be able to hold them again," he said of his children Ericson and Jillian.
He also commented on his mission overseas and working with myriad countries.
"It was an outstanding deployment, but we had to break down the communication barriers," said Gustafson. He said the Afghans are working toward independence. "They want to defend their own country, and soon they'll be able to stand on their own."
Following the homecoming ceremony the troops traveled to Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, Ind., to complete their demobilization, which is scheduled to take five days.
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