Waving small American flags and holding welcome home signs, a crowd of 400 family and friends greeted the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade as they returned to Fort Benning today from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
“I’m elated, beyond excited,” Sgt. Marcel Nalls said about 25 minutes after stepping off a Delta Boeing 757 aircraft at Lawson Army Airfield. “It’s great to be home. It’s been a long run.”
Nalls of Douglasville, Ga., was among the 125 soldiers from the Columbus-based National Guard unit returning to the post. During the deployment, the soldiers provided security and support at Camp Phoenix in the capital city of Kabul.
Brigade Commander Andy Hall led 4,000 personnel which included Army soldiers, Marines, contractors, civilians and soldiers from his headquarters unit. Their duties included managing eight U.S. bases with a total population of about 11,000 people.
Hall noted the unit returned safely with every soldier about 7:30 a.m.
“It feels absolutely great,” Hall said during the celebration at Freedom Hall. “Until I hit the ground about 20 minutes ago it was an issue for me. I thought about that a lot. We feel just spectacular. Our soldiers come home happy, we are in good spirits and everybody seems to be just where you would want them to be, feeling good about what we just did.”