Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday. It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County.More >>
Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday. It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County. More >>
LENOIR CITY (WATE) - East Tennessee soldiers with the Tennessee National Guard's 253rd Military Police Company returned home Tuesday from service in Iraq.
"It feels great to finally be home see the little ones again," said Pfc. John Sapp.
He was one of more than 50 soldiers who landed at the National Guard Volunteer Training Site in Smyrna and spent the night before out-processing on Tuesday.
A handful of the soldiers were reunited with their families at an armory in Lenoir City.
The initial expectation was that the company would spend at least another seven months overseas, but the soldiers became part of the military's timeline of less than 50,000 combat troops in Iraq by the end of August. It signifies the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"It's a heart warming experience to be back in Tennessee with the family," said Spc. Bradley Proffitt.
"It lets me know and lets everyone else know that we have made a difference, that it is starting to show, and maybe it'll soon be over for good," Pfc. Sapp said.
They chose to say little about the environment in the Middle East, only that they helped train and mentor Iraqi police.
"It was a learning experience, and we progressed we dealt with the situation better and better," Spc. Proffitt said.
Officials say the rest of the company is scheduled to return to Tennessee in spring 2011.
The soldiers are part of the 170-person company that mobilized in March.
The company is headquartered in Bristol and Lenoir City.