218th begins journey home

POPE AIR FORCE BASE, NC (WIS) - After a year serving the country in Afghanistan, the 218th Brigade Combat Team is on their way home.

Nearly 200 members of South Carolina's 218th National Guard Unit returned to Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina early Monday morning.

They spent 14 months waiting for this day.

Lieutenant Colonel Les says 1,600 soldiers have been deployed with the 218th.

They shipped out last April for a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. It was the largest single unit deployment from the South Carolina National Guard since World War II. The team was part of a force training the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.

The National Guard says the initial flight home includes soldiers from Darlington, Fountain Inn, Orangeburg, West Columbia and Walterboro.

The group mainly consists of administrative personnel, who will help with the return of the remainder of the brigade.

Carroll says the demobilization process normally lasts four to five days, and most of the initial soldiers will remain at Fort Bragg until the entire brigade is demobilized by mid-May.

The rest of the soldiers are schedules to return on various flights by mid-May.

Once all members are home, the 218th will have a homecoming here in the Palmetto state.

Family members are more than ready.

Sgt. Furman Doyle is one of those coming home. Monica Doyle says, "When I heard from him last night, I jumped out of bed. I was excited he was home."

Alice Doyle says, "I had tears running down my face. I said, 'Son, I'm very proud of you, you and all the soldiers. I can't wait to see you.'"

"It was a heavy burden off my shoulders. Cause if it wasn't for God helping us through it, I don't know how we would make it."

Previous stories on the 218th:

Posted by Logan Smith

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