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Sussex Countian
  • Del. National Guard soldiers return from Afghanistan, surprise families

  • After nine months in Afghanistan, 21 members of the Delaware National Guard’s 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion returned to Georgetown on Dec. 17, just in time for the holidays.
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  • After nine months in Afghanistan, 21 members of the Delaware National Guard’s 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion returned to Georgetown on Dec. 17, just in time for the holidays.
    Because most of the soldiers’ families were not expecting them for another three months, the homecoming at the Georgetown Armory was small.
    “A lot of the soldiers didn’t want their family members to know they were coming home so they could surprise them,” said Staff Sgt. Tim Jones of the Georgetown Armory. “They were expected to be deployed for 12 months.”
    Staff Sgt. Wendy McDougall, a spokeswoman for the Delaware National Guard, said it’s her understanding that “troops are being sent home once their mission is completed. These soldiers were sent home early because the project they were working on came to a completion.”
    Prior to their return to Delaware, McDougall said the soldiers spent two weeks at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
    “They went through a demobilization process at Fort Bliss,” she said. “They handed in their weapons and went through a medical process. It gets them reintegrated into the states.”
    These Sussex County soldiers, along with 59 others from northern Delaware, were flown into the New Castle Airport around 2:15 p.m. where they were greeted by Gov. Jack Markell. The soldiers were then bussed to armories in Wilmington and Georgetown.
    Rachel Baron, of Seaford, brought her three children – Juliana, 7, Kevin Jr., 5, and Michele, 20 months – to the Georgetown Armory to welcome home her husband Kevin.
    “[Kevin] was going to surprise me; but he ended up telling me he was coming home,” Baron said. “This is such a wonderful Christmas present. I’m just so happy.”
    When Kevin Baron got off the bus, he had gifts for his children – baseball gloves for Juliana and Kevin and a Lilo & Stitch ball for Michele.
    “I’m so thrilled to be back with my wife and children,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more than to be with them. I’m going to spend the rest of the kids’ break with them and we’re having a party the night before Christmas for my homecoming.”
    Melanie Marshall, of Millsboro, also brought her brood – Seth, 7, Ryan, 4, and Chase 16 months – to welcome home her husband Aaron. She said this was Aaron’s third deployment to Afghanistan.
    “It feels wonderful to have him home,” she said. “It’s nice to have somebody there to help you, somebody to talk to at night and somebody to just be there.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Aaron Marshall said he looks forward to celebrating the holidays with his family, adding they planned to travel to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. to see the park’s famed Christmas display.
    McDougall said there are still 220 members of the unit in Afghanistan. Those soldiers will return in two phases – one in January and the other in February.

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