Federal, state and local officials joined family members and friends Saturday morning at a formal ceremony hosted by the Connecticut National Guard at Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby to thank more than 175 troops for their recent deployment overseas.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman state Attorney General George Jepsen and State Rep. Elaine O’Brien were among those in attendance to express their appreciation for the members of 103rd Security Forces Squadron (SFS), the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), the 192nd Engineer Battalion, the 1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group (TASMG), the Aviation Depot Maintenance Roundout Unit (ADMRU) from the Connecticut National Guard.
The troops returned home in several waves over the winter.
“I could not be prouder than I am of these individuals whose accomplishments we honor today,” Malloy said.
Blumenthal echoed Malloy’s sentiments.
“I have said more than once, ‘When you call out the National Guard, you call out America,’” he said. “‘When you call out the Connecticut National Guard, you call out the best in America.’”
Blumenthal went a step further, acknowledging the sacrifices that the members of the National Guard made as volunteers in serving in conflicts overseas.
“This generation will come to be known in our lifetime as our greatest generation,” he said.
But while it was certainly the troops’ moment - they received awards and medals after the remarks - the soldiers’ family members were also recognized for their sacrifices on the homefront.
“Thank you for supporting … each and every one of them,” Malloy said to the families. “You’re willingness to sacrifice along with them will long be remembered by a grateful nation and the state [of Connecticut] as well.”
The troops, for their part, were thankful for the ceremony, and equally excited just to be home.
“It’s great to be home,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sherry Wozniak, a Plainfield resident who was one of the last female soldiers stationed in Iraq. “It’s busy. When I was in Iraq, I was worried about my job and safety. Here, I’m back to being mom again.”
Captain Donnial Hinds said that he was thrilled to be home with his wife and children, including his newborn, whose birth he missed while he was stationed in Kosovo.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be back with my family,” he said.
But while the event was a celebration of the troops’ returning home and for a job well done, there was also a sobering undertone that went along with the ceremony, as Malloy mentioned that seven units of 700 Connecticut troops would be deployed by the fall of this year.
“I’m thinking of them as we celebrate today,” Malloy said.