Oklahoma National Guard Returns Home

10-5-05 - They were among the first to help with rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina struck, but now, after more than a month, more than 200 members of the 1-180th are back on Sooner soil.

It was a quiet homecoming, about a dozen guardsmen and a half-dozen trucks pulled in just before 11 a.m. Wednesday. You can tell the trucks that have been in New Orleans as they all have white ID tags.

Most of the morning has been about unloading for medic Nicholas McGee. He and the other members of the 1-180th demobilized yesterday at Camp Maxey in Paris. About 100 came home Tuesday night with the remaining 100 arriving Wednesday morning, not only in Durant but other Southern Oklahoma Armories like Ada, Atoka and Idabel.

Specialist McGee says he is looking forward to visiting his mother in Oklahoma City. He served in Afghanistan, but he says he saw more deaths in New Orleans and the experience will stay with him.

"It's a little closer to home," McGee said. "You realize it could be you in that same situation. ..your family worrying about you, your house, stuff like that."

Lots of folks concerned about what these guys might have been exposed to in the water down in New Orleans, but the Colonel here tells us that they were all given a blood test at Camp Maxey. Counseling will also be provided for soldiers if they need it.

They are still on active duty, but they'll be released October 15th for some well deserved rest and relaxation.

About a dozen members of Ardmore's 345th came home Monday night. In all, 2,200 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.