LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — It was nothing but hugs, kisses and tears of joy Wednesday afternoon at the National Guard Armory in Lafayette. The area welcomed home more than 100 men and women who returned from eight months in Afghanistan.
Photo Gallery | Troops return from Afghanistan
The men and women of the 1638th Transportation Company arrived at the armory Wednesday afternoon. Waiting for soldiers from across Indiana were family members, friends and fellow guardsmen at the armory.
“I made a commitment to them before we left, and it was a big commitment, that I would bring them back to their families and I did, it happened,” said Master Sgt. Carlos Figueroa.
“It’s awesome. There’s no feeling like home. It’s good to see my family. Sad to say bye to my brothers and sisters, but it’s good to finally have my real ones back,” said Sgt. Jessica Pabey.
“It’s been almost a year, plus training, so we’ve definitely had our time with our families and friends, away from our families and friends. I know the guys are really excited to go back home,” said Lt. Brent Klumpe.
Spc. Richard Higley came home to a wife, sister, nieces, a nephew and three children, including one-year-old twin girls. He left them just 12 days after they were released from the NICU. He said it was difficult leaving them at such a young age.
“Not much of a choice, kind of had to do it,” said Higley.
While most of Higley’s family was there to greet him Wednesday, he was saving one big surprise for his mother.
“Just gonna sneak in the back door for the most part,” said Higley. “She doesn’t think you’re coming home for three more weeks,” added his sister. “I know that and that’s the way it was originally supposed to happen for everybody here, except for my little brother told everybody.”
The men and women of the 1638th Transportation Company spent the last eight months transporting equipment and supplies while providing security for convoys. They tell News 18 — there’s no place like home.
“Being over there is just a whole different world and just being back in the United States is a great feeling. It’s really hard to explain it, but it feels like a lot of load off,” said Figueroa.
“Words can’t even express it. It feels like just falling in love all over again. It’s just the best feeling in the whole wide world,” said Amanda Klumpe, wife of Lt. Brent Klumpe.
Now that she’s reunited with her family, Pabey’s looking forward to another perk of being back in the United State of America.
“Arby’s it is then!” said Pabey.