This Sunday, 40 troops from the 116th Cavalry Brigade will finally return home after their year-long mission in the middle east. The Pocatello Regional Airport is working out all the logistics on how the chartered arrival will work.
Banners are already hung in the AV Center hangar where the troops will be welcomed. Myriad “thank you” messages cover the signs, and those are the most important thing, said the AV Center’s Emily Hubbard. She has been working to get everything in order for the troops’ arrival.
“It’s always emotional to see them with their families. It’s always a great feeling,” Hubbard said.
AV Center employees are figuring out where family members will be able to go, and whether or not they will need to officially screen any of the returnees by TSA standards. A husband of one of Hubbard’s former co-workers will be returning on this trip, so it is personal for her, too.
“It’s fun to see people that you actually really know and coming off that plane and meeting their families. That kind of stuff is really cool,” she said.
And it is personal for Master Sgt. James Blake. He served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and now is a recruiter for the National Guard. He knows all the people who are coming back, and how they might feel.
“Even the simplest things are going to be just beyond belief great. My own shower, my own bathroom. Streets, paved streets. there’s all kinds off little things that will become more aware (to them),” he said.
Blake will be part of a group hauling luggage off the planes so the soldiers will not have to. His advice for family and friends: You cannot make your soldier feel good enough.
“These guys are going to want to go the state fair and get a tiger ear, or something, because that’s Americana. And it’s safe and it’s fun. And that’s what they’re going to want to do. They’re going to want to do stuff with friends and family and be a part of the culture again,” Blake said.
The members of the 116th are slated to land at Pocatello Regional Airport around 1:45 p.m. Sunday. The public is allowed to attend the homecoming, but organizers ask that they do not try to talk to any of the troops so they can get home at quickly as possible.