OKLAHOMA CITY — Over 170 more soldiers with the Oklahoma Army National Guard returned home from Afghanistan Friday. Hundreds of families crowded the hangar at the Will Rogers Air National Guard base where the soldiers returned. Soldiers already home from overseas also came to wait for their friends.
Specialist Justin Short came from Tulsa to welcome his friend, Sergeant Eric Sebastian.
“It’s hard to get through an event like this and just to have [a friend] really helps you push through,” Spc. Short said.
Short and Sebastian served in Iraq together four years ago.
“Every chance we got we were hanging out just to kill time, just trying to get it to pass a little faster,” Short said.
Home with the soldiers on Friday, Colonel Joel Ward, who led the 45th Infantry Brigade into Afghanistan.
Ward took the podium with Maj. General Rita Aragon and Sen. James Lankford to welcome home the soldiers.
“The Oklahoma National Guard and the citizens of Oklahoma can be proud of their citizen soldiers. The soldiers of the 45th answered our nation’s call and met its every need,” Col. Ward said.
After the formalities, Short and Sebastian found each other with a welcoming embrace.
“[It’s] good knowing my friends are here and waiting for me,” Sebastian said.
Talleqah native, 30-year-old Sebastian doesn’t get to see his friend stateside very often but they always make a point of honoring their brotherhood with a get-together twice a year.
The last of the troops with the 45th Infantry Brigade are due home in early April.
Over 3,000 soldiers from the Oklahoma Army National Guard deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait last June.