Soldiers return after year in Afghanistan


More Indiana National Guard soldiers came home Thursday, after serving nearly a year in Afghanistan.

Patriotism, pride and patience, waiting for the doors to open happens at all military homecomings, but Thursday, there was something different.

Something yellow.

"As you can see, we have a big family," said Nola Garrison, the mother of a returning soldier.

The yellow shirts represented one soldier's family, coming out to welcome him home.

"His grandma and grandpa are here. His dad and his stepdad, his cousins. It's a big group," Garrison said. " And that's not all of them. But we made shirts for everybody to make sure he knew we were here to support them."

The soldiers that marched home Thursday spent nearly a year in Afghanistan, providing security and helping the Afghan National Police.

But Thursday, their final order was to find their families. For Sgt. Devin Rairdon, it was hard to miss his loved ones when they're wearing the same bright color.

"It's a little overwhelming. It's great, but it's a little overwhelming," Rairdon said.

After nearly a year, Rairdon began reconnecting, one yellow shirt at a time.

"Missing the events. That's the biggest thing. Holidays, birthdays, that's the toughest part of being away," Rairdon said.

"I'm so thankful he's safe. We'll see if he's sound," Garrison laughed. "I'm really thankful. I'm thankful to have my son back. Have my ducks back in the nest."

The National Guard soldiers who returned Thursday are based in New Albany and Plymouth, Indiana.

The unit lost 27-year-old Spc. Arronn Fields of Knightsville in May when he was killed during a rocket propelled grenade attack.

Twenty-three-year-old James Scott of Plymouth tells The Indianapolis Star that unit members pulled together to finish their mission in Fields' memory. Scott's 8-month-old son was born while he was overseas and he says Fields' death makes him more grateful for many things.