Families Welcome Back Md. National Guard Soldiers At Ceremony

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A sweet homecoming for Maryland soldiers recently back from a year-long tour in Afghanistan.

As Gigi Barnett reports, the unit is one of the Guard’s most mobilized.

For the Maryland National Guard’s 290th Military Police Company, the hard work in Afghanistan is over. This weekend, it’s time for rewards at the homecoming ceremony at Fort Meade.

“Life’s back to normal,” said .

The unit’s nearly 100 soldiers actually returned to the states back in February, but this ceremony in front of family and friends is the Guard’s chance to thank them for guarding detainees and training Afghani police during their year-long mission.

“I missed her a lot,” said Ana Martinez, mother.

Ana and Saul Martinez say they missed their youngest daughter, Sergeant Rachel Martinez, who didn’t tell them much about her mission.

“I don’t want them to worry. They won’t understand. I think they just…talking to each other and having their support was more important than going into the details,” Sgt. Martinez said.

Sgt. Major Aarion Franklin used that tactic, too. He’s been deployed with the unit four times.

“One of the Afghani police officers we worked with, we were the same age and he had three kids. And as you start learning more and more about him as a person…this is just me in a different country,” Sgt. Major Franklin said.

Since 9/11, the unit has been deployed four major times.

“We deployed in support of the Pentagon immediately after the plane attack,” said Captain Andrew Wrenn.

It’s been nonstop ever since. Soldiers say should the Guard ever call them up again, they’re ready.

“Whatever comes up is what we’re here for. We made a commitment to the military,” Sgt. Major Franklin said.

But for now, welcome home, soldiers.

The unit is one of the Guard’s most deployed. The next step for many of them is getting back to their civilian jobs or, for some of them, finding a job.

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