Home for the holidays. Dozens of Connecticut Army National Guardsmen are back home Tuesday night after spending nearly a year apart from loved ones. While precautions changed the homecoming ceremony, it was still just as sweet.
The 192nd Military Police Battalion Headquarters stepped off their plane and on to Connecticut soil. Deploying back in January, they spent months at the joint base at Guantanamo Bay and watched as the world changed around them.
“This is my first deployment. I’m back now. It feels good. Obviously, it’s going to be a little weird with the Corona stuff, getting used to it. But I’m just glad to be back right now,” said PFC Matthew DiVergilio.
Due to the pandemic, loved ones stayed in their cars, brought signs, and honked their horns when their soldiers arrived.
“It’s been far too long. I didn’t think this time was going to actually come,” said Sgt. Josh Odell.
Odell held his young son the entire time we spoke to him.
“It’s been a long 11 months, but we had a lot of family support and a lot of help. And we’re just happy to have him home,” said Odell’s wife, Helen.
This holiday season seems a bit sweeter for these families, and in 2020, every good moment is worth holding on to.
“I’m so happy for him to be back. I’ve been waiting since the day he left,” said Jillian DiVergilio, DiVergilio’s sister.
“We’re happy to have him for the holidays. We missed him. We saw him go off, and it was so long ago and so fast at the same time. We’re glad he’s back. Everybody is back safe. That’s all that matters,” said Mark DiVergilio, DiVergilio’s dad.
In a news release, Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, Adjutant General and commanding officer of the Connecticut National Guard said, “When this unit deployed, the world was a very different place. Not only did the 192nd Military Police Headquarters fulfill its duties and exceed the standards, they did so while facing the challenges presented operating overseas just before the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic here. I am immensely proud of them for their mission accomplishments while returning everyone safe and healthy and am excited to see these Connecticut Guardsmen reunited with family ahead of the holidays.”
In the same release, Governor Ned Lamont said, “On behalf of the people of Connecticut, we’re proud to welcome home the 192nd Military Police Battalion after protecting our country while on deployment. Just in time to spend the holidays with loved ones, we are reminded every day both here and abroad how much of a critical partner the Guard has been throughout this pandemic—from testing, to building hospitals to distributing PPE, we cannot thank the men and women of our National Guard enough.”
The returning soldiers did have to quarantine for two weeks at Fort Hood before arriving home.