Local soldiers return home to their families - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local soldiers return home to their families

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Photo by WRCB anchor Callie Starnes. Photo by WRCB anchor Callie Starnes.
Photo by WRCB anchor Callie Starnes. Photo by WRCB anchor Callie Starnes.
Photo by WRCB anchor Callie Starnes. Photo by WRCB anchor Callie Starnes.

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- It's a homecoming a year in the making.

Dozens of National Guard soldiers are at home with their families, after the 1-181st returned home Thursday.

"I thank God every night for the men and women who wear the uniform of the armed forces of this country," Robert McMullen says. "And it's important for them to know that we appreciate them."

It's a reunion nearly a year in the making.

Dozens of families from Trenton to Athens are once again complete.

"It felt great," Sgt. Jordan Harper says. "It's been way too long."

"Extremely proud," Ashley Harper says. "See? I keep crying. But yeah, extremely proud, you have no idea."

"Can't describe it," Sgt. Christopher Castleberry says. "Best thing that's happened to me in a long time."

Sgt. Christopher Castleberry deployed for his second tour when his son was just four months old.

"Oh, yeah, he was crawling," he says.

There is much to catch up on after the time apart.

"It's like 280-something ridiculous days," Mrs. Castleberry says. "So proud, just him going through this, and me going through this, it makes me respect other soldiers and other wives more than I ever did."

The 1-181st returns after training the Jordanian Infantry and accompanying them to Afghanistan.

"I guess mission complete," says Sgt. Harper.

Mission complete, but there is one more order of business.

"To find the best place to go eat that does not serve chicken or rice," says Sgt. Harper.

"We are going to go get some pork chops," Sgt. Castleberry says, laughing. "Because foreign countries do not like pork and we weren't allowed to eat it."

More important than the meal, the people they'll be sharing it with.

The local soldiers are just part of the 193 troops to arrive home this week.

More than 27,000 Tennessee Army and Air National guardsmen have deployed since September 11, 2001.

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