After a nine month deployment in Afghanistan, the Florida Army National Guard’s 869th Engineering Company is home. About 200 friends and family packed in to the Alexander O. Shefler Jr. Armory in Quincy to greet the returning service members. First Lieutenant Marc James Mcateer , said he missed some very important members of his family.
“Family- I really looked forward to seeing my baby brothers, they just brighten my world,” Mcateer said.
The distance between these service men and their families wasn’t only felt on the other side of the world though. Lieutenant Mcateer’s mother Cynthia Hayes, said communicating with her son was difficult at times.
“Not being able to pick up the phone and call him any time I wanted to, that was the hardest part. I’m used to talking to him at least once a week, so just having to stay busy and not have to look at the phone and say ‘ok I’m ready to call’ but I couldn’t call, I think that was the hardest part, not hearing his voice as often as I’d like to,” Hayes said.
Most of the Guardsmen have not been home since the start of their tour last February. There can be some big changes before and after deployment. Specialist Reneesia Alexander purchased her very first home while on tour.
“First time homeowner, I’m so glad I can’t wait to run and sleep in a bed and not wake up at 5 am every morning, 4am sometimes,” Alexander said.
Twenty of the Company’s Guardsmen are from Quincy, with the remaining 60 from other parts of the state. The unit is part of the United States Central Command Materials Recovery Effort. While overseas the company was tasked with engineering, construction, and the disassembly of military bases in Afghanistan.