A Proper Welcome Home Ceremony

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National Guard members from Machesney Park have been back since August, but it takes some adjusting before troops were ready to look back on their mission.

In January, members of the 244th Army Liaison team left for Afghanistan.
Sunday’s Welcome Home ceremony was the first time the unit has gathered since returning home in August.

A smile on their face verses the fear of the unknown. On January 10, the 244th Army Liaison team packed up and said good-bye. At that time Laci Lifka-Nelson said, “I'm excited and proud in one aspect but I have a lot of sadness cause I have to leave them."

A year later, Lifka-Nelson's hesitations about the mission are put to rest. The tears then from families who would be torn apart for who knows how long are now proud claps of recognition.

But life in Afghanistan troops say was a daily routine. The American life of numerous responsibilities was why the unit needed time before this welcome home ceremony.

The 244th Army Liaison team tells 23 News that another trip overseas is highly likely. Only two of the U.S. Army's ten active-duty divisions will be at full strength to handle any new conflicts next year. Army officials acknowledge the force is stretched. They say if a new fight should arise, troops from the National Guard like the 244th in Machesney Park are capable of joining the fight.

Soldiers recovering from active duty are generally allowed six months to rest, retrain and repair equipment, but could be quickly reactivated if needed.