As the Eagle Trailways bus approached closer to it’s destination, two fire trucks sprayed water into the air on either side of the vehicle as a salute to the men and women returning home.
Border patrol, ambulances and police vehicles escorted the bus into the base each flashing their red and blue lights in respect for the troops
Anticipation was tense in the Army Reserve center of the Kingsville Naval Air Station filled with anxious families waiting to see each of their personal heroes for the first time in 10 months.
“I see mommy,” cried a little boy while the troops walked in.
The 370th Transport Unit of Kingsville brought home 35 soldiers from Tikrit, Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s home town, on Sept. 28 from the unit’s third deployment and were lead into the building by the Wounded Warriors–a motorcycle club made up of veterans.
Applause broke out as soon as they entered and soon cheering followed.
“U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A,” echoed throughout the room as the heroes of war stood at attention in the room where they would once again reunite with their loved ones.
Most of these men and women of war are returning to a family left behind, an unfinished education or a family soon to start.
“Whataburger. What-A-Burger,” Daniel Carbajal said with a sigh of relief and a huge grin. “They have McDonalds and Popeye’s, but it ain’t like the same back home.”
Carbajal is a man whose sister died just a week before he departed for Iraq. He returned home exactly one year after her death.
Confidently and proudly, he expressed how he managed to push through the pain of loss and departure, “Soldiers are like your family. They’re always gonna be there for you–they helped me along the way,” Carbajal said.
His mother, Debbie Garcia who was puffy eyed throughout her entire experience of being with her son explained that his sister died in a car accident.
“We buried her on a Saturday and he left on the following Tuesday,” she said shakily. “Having him in a war and after having lost a child was very difficult.”
Garcia explained that the family kept in touch with him in order to cope with all the problems they had to forego and relied on Skype and other Internet based mediums
Her voice began to tremble, “The entire time he was over there, he kept saying, ‘You know I have an angel watching over me.”
Garcia choked a bit more, “He said, ‘She helped bring me home.’” Her eyes began to water and her voice broke, “So yeah. It was–It was hard.”
Now that Carbajal has returned home, his first goal is to eat a nice, refreshing meal and “sleep for a month straight.”
“I wanted to work here on base,” he said. “Try to go to college and just–live life.”
Men aren’t the only warriors who go over seas–women play their roles as well, such as Ann Luera who actually organized the entire event in one week with AMK’s ROTC, who spread the word.
“I coordinated with the Cameron County Sheriffs office, Willacy County Sheriff’s office, Kennedy County Sheriff’s office, Kleberg County Sheriff’s office and the Patriot Guard Chapter out of Corpus Christi to escort them in,” Luera said. “Also what we had was the water salute from NAS Kingsville Fire Department to welcome them back.”
Luera’s intention was to show appreciation for Kingsville’s soldiers, and give their families somewhere to unite.
“Being previously deployed I know what it’s like to be out there,” Luera explained.
She proudly explained that she is in the Army Reserves 812th Quarter Master Unit out of Harlingen, Texas and that when her fiancé deployed, she had just returned.
“We communicated a lot through Skype–but Skype is, uh…” Luera chuckled.
Unlike most of the soldiers at the event, Luera had the experience of having been deployed before and understands the difficulties of returning to the States.
“Honestly, being the deployed soldier is what I like the best,” she said. “Being the family members that were being left behind–I didn’t like that.
“Not knowing what my younger kids wanted, because they had changed so much in the two years that I had been gone,” she explained. “I think that was the most difficult–coming back and not knowing what my kids liked and how they changed.
Like a true soldier, Luera wants to go back, saying that she “loves her job.”
By: Jonathan Adams
By: Alejandra Garza