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Four local soldiers get warm welcome home after 10-month deployment in Afghanistan

9:54 PM, Jun 2, 2013   |    comments
Sergeant LaRoya Mitchell of the Florida National Guard 856th Quartermaster Support Company returns home to Jacksonville after a ten-month deployment in Afghanistan.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was a warm welcome home after hours of flight delays for local National Guard soldiers returning home to Jacksonville.

Four families, members of the American Legion Riders and Northeast Florida Patriot Guard waited with flags and signs ready to greet the Florida National Guard 856th Quartermaster Support Company.

"It's been a long time coming. I'm so excited. I've missed him. Just been going through daily life without him but it's a happy ending right now," said Sergeant First Class Vicky Bautista, who was waiting for her husband to return from deployment.

In August the unit of 40 soldiers stationed in Immokalee had its deployment ceremony and then spent the next ten months in Afghanistan.

The group's mission was to provide units overseas with supplies and fuel. 

The soldiers returned home all over the state Sunday -- four returned home to Jacksonville.

Sergeant LaRoya Mitchell of Orange Park left for deployment when her son Elijah was just 18-months-old. 

On Friday Mitchell posted on her Facebook page, "In 48 hours I will get to hold my son for the first time in almost 11 months."

"Well I was just afraid she was going to miss a lot and to see how he is now, just a totally different person," said the baby's father, Staff Sergeant Larry Woodson.

Little Elijah and his father waited patiently for mommy to return home. Woodson said there were many memories he wishes Mitchell could have been there for.

"Potty training," laughed Woodson.

He said video chatting helped Mitchell keep track of her now two-year-old's growth.

"He knows Mommy," added Woodson.

Vicky Bautista and her husband will be returning to a new mission -- operation celebrate anniversary. 

After spending the first year of their marriage apart, the couple will get to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

"It takes a lot of the family as you can see, but we put that mission first," said Bautista.

The four local soldiers returning to Jacksonville from the 856th Quartermaster Support Company were Sergeant Ketrina Jones, Specialist Jonathan Rouse, Staff Sergeant Joshua Bautista, and Sergeant LaRoya Mitchell.

First Coast News

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