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More than 150 RI National Guard members return home on Thanksgiving

More than 150 soldiers in the Rhode Island National Guard reunited with their families on Thanksgiving.

The soldiers returned home after a 10-month deployment overseas and then a two-week quarantine in Texas.

The group did routine missions across Southwest Asia in support of Operation Spartan Shield

“We were doing customs work. Pretty much stopping someone from coming in the country that wasn’t supposed to,” National Guard member Craig Chmielewski said.

During their time overseas, the soldiers had to battle a different enemy — the coronavirus pandemic.

“We left without a mask and now we’re with a mask,” National Guard member Amanda Smith said.

Now they’re returning to communities that are much different than when they left but their loved ones are happy to have them back.

“It didn’t feel real until pretty much right now when I saw my family,” National Guard member William Naylor said. “But from the plane ride to the bus ride here, it was indescribable.”

The National Guard says there are no other large group deployments scheduled for the next year, so the soldiers will get some well-deserved quality time with their families.

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