National Guardsmen welcomed home

Posted at: 12/13/2012 5:48 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

After nine months on a peacekeeping mission in Egypt, it's posole and tamale time for about 420 soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard.

The troops returned to New Mexico this week, and the city of Rio Rancho threw a big welcome home celebration for about half of them Thursday at the Santa Ana Star Arena.

The soldiers are from B Company of the 1st Battalion of the 200th Infantry. They were on duty in the Sinai peninsula as part of an international peacekeeping mission. During their stay, violent troubles between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas led to some very tense times in the Sinai, but the troops never saw combat.

"The landscape isn't terribly different in Sinai than here," said Lt. Tommy Truex. "It wasn't a bad deployment at all. It was for the most part pretty low-key. We observed different things regarding the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt."

The soldiers have some adjusting to do to get back to the groove of being part-time soldiers and full-time civilian workers. For some it's the first time, but others have been here before.

"Oh, it's going good," said Sgt. Eric Stuart. "I've been in the service for awhile. It's my fifth deployment. It's good to be back though. My family is so excited see me here, the kids are real excited. My daughter cried when I picked her up from school. That was a new thing for me, but I'm adjusting well."

About 45 New Mexico Guardsmen remain on duty in the Sinai. In recent years, thousands of New Mexico Guard soldiers have been sent to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba, and Egypt.