HARTFORD, Conn. — When the 143rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion returned from a 10-month deployment to Kuwait in December, it was the first time since March 2003 that all of Connecticut's National Guardsmen and women were home.
As three state Army National Guard units, including the 143rd CSSB, were formally welcomed home Tuesday night in a ceremony at the State Armory, state officials emphasized the overall progress in the war on terror, progress that has brought more and more military members home.
The work of U.S. troops in support of the war in Afghanistan has led to "a network of terror around the world that is on the run" and a nation that has not suffered a terrorist attack since 9/11, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said.
"I am always moved and impressed by the quality of men and women who join the National Guard of Connecticut," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Family and friends of members of the 143rd CSSB, Company B of the 1048th Transportation Company and the 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment watched proudly from the bleachers Tuesday night as the units were formally recognized for the sacrifices they made to serve their country.
The 1048th returned home in August and the 104th in September. Both units were deployed to Afghanistan.
Jessica Lukacovic said her fiance, Sgt. Philip Richards, returned from an 11-month deployment, one week after the birth of their son, Maximus.
"It was hard; I wish he was there," she said.
Lukacovic, who also has three young daughters, said having Richards home has been wonderful. "They love seeing daddy," she said, smiling down at her children.
Two members of the 1048th, Staff Sgt. Alex Seretny and Spec. Michael Peterson, were awarded the Purple Heart on Tuesday night for wounds sustained during combat actions in Afghanistan. Twenty soldiers were awarded Bronze Stars.
From December until February, Connecticut had no National Guard units deployed in support of the war on terror, said Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, the adjutant general and commander of the Connecticut National Guard. There are now 20 National Guard members deployed to Southwest Asia.