Indiana Guard Soldiers Return to New Indy Airport

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Payton Smoot, 4, clutches her father, 2nd Lt. Robert Smoot of Indiana 76th Infantry BCT, who just returned from Iraq at Indianapolis International Airport.
Payton Smoot, 4, clutches her father, 2nd Lt. Robert Smoot of Indiana’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, who just returned from Iraq at the new Indianapolis International Airport. Soldiers loaded up on buses bound for Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center for demobilization processes shortly after the ceremony. Indiana National Guard Photo by Spc. William E. Henry, Indiana Army National Guard.

“I’m so glad he’s back on American soil,” said Tamara Moore about an hour before her husband, Spc. Rick Moore, arrived with the other Indiana National Guard Soldiers at the Col. H. Weir Cook terminal. Other Soldiers’ family members shared the emotional relief as they waited in anticipation.

Daniel Moore wipes tears from his eyes after his dad, Spec. Richard L. Moore, holds him after a nine month deployment in Iraq with Indiana 76th Infantry BCT.
Daniel Moore wipes tears from his eyes after his dad, Spec. Richard L. Moore, holds him. Moore returned after a nine month deployment in Iraq with Indiana’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Indiana Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tina Griffin.

“I know I’ll be ready to cry when I see him,” said Sophia Render about an hour before her brother arrived. Her brother is Spc. Jessie Miller, a force protection specialist with the brigade’s headquarters company. For many the homecoming was a time of celebration, a time of reflection, and a time to look forward and share burdens instead of dealing with them individually.

“It’s a big relief just knowing he’s back as my sidekick, my partner. I don’t have to be a single parent anymore,” said Tamara.

Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of Indiana, hugs Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory A. Rhoades after he got off the plane at the new Col. Weir Cook Terminal at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of Indiana, hugs Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory A. Rhoades moments after he got off the plane at the new Col. Weir Cook Terminal at the Indianapolis International Airport. Rhoades returned from a nine month deployment with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Indiana Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tina Griffin.

One pastor who was there to support members of his congregation noted the same thing. “Military spouses wear so many different hats while their loved ones are away,” said Jeff Alexander pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Greenwood, Ind. where Danielle and Sgt. 1st Class Philip Frazier of Bargersville, Ind. attend church. The Soldiers were relieved and happy to be back among family again, too.

“It’s great to be back. It’s the freedom, and seeing everyone, and having all these people here; it’s really nice,” said Sgt. Jamie Johnson of Shelbyville, Ind. She’s a telecommunications noncommissioned officer with the brigade’s headquarters company.

“It’s awesome to see my wife and hold her hand and get hugs from my children,” said Rick Moore. The Moore’s of Noblesville, Ind. are parents of four children – Joshua, 14; Micah, 11; Hannah; 10 and Daniel, 8. According to Tamara, Joshua is about seven inches taller now than when Rick left.

Tamara Moore helps dress her son Daniel in a combat uniform similar to his father, Spc. Rick Moore, at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Tamara Moore helps dress her son Daniel in a combat uniform similar to his father, Spc. Rick Moore, at the Indianapolis International Airport. The Moore’s of Noblesville, Ind. endured their first deployment together as the Indiana National Guard’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team supported Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Moore is an administration support specialist with the brigade.

“I use to look down, now I have to look a bit farther up,” said Rick of his five-foot, eight-inch son. Rick stated he recognized his son when Joshua tapped him on the shoulder, but it took him aback to see how much his son had grown. “Somehow I just realized it was him,” he said.

While Solders missed some changes like a growth spurt of a son or the birth of a nephew, like Spc. Kayla Nier did, it was also a time of reflection for the Soldiers, and a time to take stock of their work during the nine-month deployment.

Maj. Harold R. Johnston found a quiet spot to visit with his wife, Geri, and son, Wyatt, in the USO at the new Col. Weir Cook Terminal at the Indianapolis Airport.
Maj. Harold R. Johnston found a quiet spot to visit with his wife, Geri, and son, Wyatt, in the USO at the new Col. Weir Cook Terminal at the Indianapolis Airport. Johnston returned with Indiana’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team after serving nine months in Iraq. Indiana Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tina Griffin.

“I’m proud of my teammates and the 76th Brigade,” said Miller. “We did good things over there.”

According to Miller, some of those good things were route security, base security and helping with the Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone program that helps build and sustain the Iraqi economy.

“I can’t help but think, in talking with Iraqis, that we are helping them,” said Moore, an administration support specialist with the brigade. He also mentioned the IBIZ program. “That’s a huge part of it, trying to build that base (the Iraqi economy).

The family members were also proud of the Soldiers.

Indiana Army National Guard Soldiers with 76th Infantry BCT march into the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal civic plaza at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Indiana Army National Guard Soldiers with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team march into the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal civic plaza at the Indianapolis International Airport. The brigade’s support of Operation Iraqi Freedom marked the largest deployment of an Indiana National Guard unit since World War II. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry, Indiana National Guard

“I didn’t know how important our Soldiers were in Iraq until he went,” said Render of her brother. “They’re really sacrificing their lives, and they’re so unselfish, so giving, they’re just unbelievable,” she said.

Now it’s time for one last step in their journey. The 100 Citizen-Soldiers travelled to Camp Atterbury to complete reintegration into civilian life. They will spend up to five days undergoing complete physical health assessments as well as screening and counseling for possible post traumatic stress issues. Then it will finally be time to reconnect with family and share their lives again at home.

Indiana Army National Guard Soldiers with 76th Infantry BCT stand in the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal civic plaza at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Indiana Army National Guard Soldiers with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team march into the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal civic plaza at the Indianapolis International Airport. While deployed to Iraq, the brigade’s Soldiers supported security missions, aerial reconnaissance missions, presence patrols, convoy escorts, and high profile reconstruction efforts to the Iraqi economy. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry, Indiana National Guard
Sophie Render photographs her brother Spc. Jessie Miller, center, with, from left Deborah Hester, a family friend; Rose Williams, his aunt; Jerry Render, his brother and Barnell Wilhite, his mother.
Sophie Render photographs her brother Spc. Jessie Miller, center, with, from left Deborah Hester, a family friend; Rose Williams, his aunt; Jerry Render, his brother and Barnell Wilhite, his mother at the Indianapolis International Airport. Miller of Indianapolis is a force protection specialist with the brigade.Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry, Indiana National Guard
Indiana National Guard Staff Sgt. Mark Simpson of Indianapolis smiles at his girlfriend, Heather Harrison.
Indiana National Guard Staff Sgt. Mark Simpson of Indianapolis smiles at his girlfriend, Heather Harrison also of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis International Airport. Simpson is materials management noncommissioned officer with the Headquarters Company, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team which deployed to Iraq in March. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry, Indiana National Guard
Indiana National Guard Spc. Kayla Nier bends down to kiss her nephew as Spc. Monica Clay watches Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Indiana National Guard Spc. Kayla Nier bends down to kiss her nephew as Spc. Monica Clay watches Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 at the Indianapolis International Airport. Nier, a radar repair specialist, and Clay, an Xray technician, deployed with Headquarters Company, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team which deployed to Iraq in March. Nier’s nephew, Parker, was born while she was deployed. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry, Indiana National Guard
Indiana National Guard Soldiers with 76th Infantry BCT assemble in Col. Weir Cook Terminal at Indianapolis International Airport after returning from Iraq.
Indiana National Guard Soldiers with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assemble in the Col. Weir Cook Terminal at the new Indianapolis International Airport after returning from Iraq. Soldiers met with family members and friends just after their arrival at the airport before being sent to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center for demobilization processing. Indiana National Guard Photo by Spc. William E. Henry, Indiana Army National Guard.
Indiana National Guard Soldier, Spc. Kyle Andrzejak, 76th Infantry BCT, leads 100 fellow Soldiers returned from Iraq through the Col. Weir Cook Terminal at Indianapolis International Airport.
Indiana National Guard Soldier, Spc. Kyle Andrzejak, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, leads a group of about 100 fellow Soldiers that just returned from Iraq through the Col. Weir Cook Terminal at the new Indianapolis International Airport. Soldiers met with family members and friends just after their arrival at the airport before being sent to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center for demobilization processing. Indiana National Guard Photo by Spc. William E. Henry, Indiana Army National Guard.

By Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry