280 Guam Guardsmen coming home Saturday night - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

280 Guam Guardsmen coming home Saturday night

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam National Guard gets ready to welcome home the first wave of soldiers returning from deployment.

It is a moment they have been waiting for. After nine long months for about 2,500 family members the wait is down to the final hours. No amount of words can put into perspective the butterflies, anxiety and sheer excitement that builds as families will once again be reunited with their soldiers. Guam National Guard Public Affairs Officer Major Josephine Blas said, "It's been confirmed that they are going to be arriving here on Guam at 10:45 pm Saturday night and that's if everything goes okay they leave Camp Shelby they land in Honolulu they get refueled and then they come here."

Close to 600 soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan early last year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and according to Blas the Guard is making plans to bring them home as quickly as possible. "So we are sending the soldiers that have arrived in the last twelve days on this plane trying to get as many as we can on it and we are going to bring them home and as soon as the other soldiers are ready to go we are going to bring them home as well. We are hoping two charter flights and we will have them all home," she said.

Their mission fulfilled, their gear packed the first wave of soldiers will depart Camp Shelby on a chartered Boeing 777 scheduled to lift off at 10:35 Eastern Standard Time and while families here on island anxiously wait. Major Blas says that loved ones can contact the rear Detachment to confirm if your soldier is on the plane, saying, "Family readiness groups and our battalion Rear Detachment they have been doing all the communication directly with the families because they have the manifests so they can tell them yes your solider is on this flight."

"They can contact the Rear Detachment at the battalion and that number is 735-4661 and they can tell them if the soldier is definitely on the plane."

Once you have confirmation make your way to the Guam International Airport Authority's south ramp in Tiyan near the United Airlines hangar at least one hour prior to touchdown at 10:45 p.m. tomorrow evening. "The soldiers are of course deployed in seven different units so what we are going to do is going to have at least seven canopies and they are all going to be marked with the unit and that's where the families are going to go so when the soldiers get off for example if they are with the Alpha Company they will see the alpha company tent and that's where all their family going to be," she said.

Major Blas says that their goal is to get these soldiers from the plane and into their families arms as quickly as possible for some much needed family time after a job well done. 

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