Heroes welcomed home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

By Monique Roth

RESERVE – There were balloons, banners and bouquets to welcome the soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard’s 1084th Transportation Company home on Thursday in Reserve. But undoubtedly more important to the soldiers, there were hundreds of friends and family members huddled in excited masses waiting for them to step off of the buses.

When the convoy finally arrived, shouts of jubilation filled the air and as soon as the bus doors opened it was the pandemonium, albeit the best kind imaginable.

Based out of Reserve with a detachment in Slidell, the 1084th deployed more than 155 soldiers during a nearly year-long stay in Afghanistan. The unit utilized their expertise and versatility by providing convoy escort of host-nation vehicles and provided transportation support to friendly forces operating within the assigned area.

During their deployment, the 1084th earned the following distinctions: completed more than 50 escort missions; logged more than 200,000 miles; worked in and around 10 bases in Afghanistan; had 70 individual soldiers receive combat badges; had eight Purple Hearts awarded; and had 12 Bronze Stars, one of the highest awards for valor, awarded.

Staff Sgt. Denis Ricou, who works in media relation for the Louisiana National Guard, said the troops will have a couple of months off from National Guard duty to transition to their civilian life, whether that be as a full-time employee, a full-time student, or a full-time stay-at-home parent.

Sgt. Casey Dotson couldn’t stop tears from pooling in his eyes as he talked about his experience over the past year.

“I myself feel like the job we do is easy,” Dotson said, “I feel like my family has the tough job.”

Dotson said that his wife Amy, sons Blake and Garrett and parents were a tremendous support system for him while he was overseas. Dotson said now that he is back he can’t wait to dig into some good Louisiana food and plan a trip to Disney World for his family.

Ricou said that all returning troops and their families will also have the opportunity to take part in a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which is a weekend event that provides counseling and information to troops and their families in an effort to get everyone better accustomed to the soldier’s return.