UPDATE: 2/18/2011 @ 9 p.m.
It's a day many in the mid-Ohio valley have been waiting for when soldiers in the 1092nd Engineer Battalion returned home.
The sun in the sky reflected the emotions on the ground Friday.
"I'm just excited that their home. I'm really proud of them," said Tiffany Barnum, wife of Sgt. Jason Barnum in the 1092nd Engineer Battalion.
Decked out in their red, white, and blue, these girls have been waiting for their fathers to return home from Afghanistan ever since they left nearly a year ago.
Ali Barnum, Sgt. Jason and Tiffany Barnum's daughter said " He came home for two weeks but that's not enough so now it's for good so that's really exciting."
"It's great to be home with the family, the wife and the kids and it will be nice to sleep in my own bed.," said Sgt. Barnum.
It's been an emotional homecoming for the soldiers. Some are seeing their children again for the first time over the past year.
"I couldn't believe how big she got. I was shocked when I saw her," said Sgt. Beth Houdyshell of the 1092nd Engineer Battalion.
Houdyshell and her father SSgt. Joe Houdyshell deployed together but were based in separate camps. He didn't come home Friday but is expected to soon.
She said the time went by pretty fast because of her job.
"I spent a lot of time working in the operating room down at the hospital so it kept me busy," she said.
The bond these soldiers have is something that will last a lifetime.
SSgt. Cliff Hecker said "We transported the convoys everywhere and got to see a lot of the countryside and not everyone got to do that but by being out on our own a lot we really got a lot of camaraderie."
While overseas, troops stayed in touch with family and friends via the internet but still some say what Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz is true "There's no place like home."
The soldiers received high accolades from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Adjutant General James Hoyer for their work on infrastructure as well as humanitarian projects in Afghanistan.
Adjutant General Hoyer praised the work of these nearly 200 men and women.
He said reports show they not only did a tremendous job in their military work but also civil military work in their interaction with the communities there.
Governor Tomblin spoke about the changes since the soldiers left- him coming into the position after Governor Joe Manchin was elected to Senator Robert C. Byrd's seat in the Senate and also the retiring of Major General Allen Tacket and Brigadier General James Hoyer succeeding him.
"Just welcome home. Thank goodness your home. Thanks from every person of West Virginia for the great job they've done over the last year and we're just so pleased to have them home safe," said Governor Tomblin.
Governor Tomblin also thanked the families of the soldiers for their support of the troops.
After the ceremony, he and Adjutant General Hoyer welcomed each and every soldier home individually.
1092nd troops have been dismissed, following departing words from commanders and WV Gov. Tomblin.
We will have more on the 1092nd's return home coming up on WTAP at Five and WTAP News at Six.
Updated 2/18/2011 @ 11:11 am
All troops have deplaned and are heading to Hangar Five, where West Virginia Gov. Tomblin and others will address soldiers and families of the 1092nd Engineer battalion.
Updated 2/18/2011 @ 9:48 am
Soldiers of the 1092nd Engineer Battalion are expected to land at approximately 10:40 Friday morning, according to the MOV Regional Airport..
My5 and WTAP.com will begin LIVE coverage of the troops' return starting at approximately 10:30 Friday morning (1530 GMT).
The troops will be arriving from Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, aboard a 737 civilian airliner. They have been at Fort McCoy since February 13th for "deployment demobilization."
Approximately 300 seats are set up for families to welcome home the soldiers. There already are a couple of hundred people at the airport.
In addition to our live coverage, we'll also have a full report on WTAP News at Noon.
Updated 2/17/2011 @ 6:06 pm
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to deliver a speech at 11:15 Friday morning will welcome home the 1092nd Engineer Battalion. Our coverage on My5 and WTAP.com will begin at approximately 11:00 am.
Updated 2/16/2011 6:35PM
Pamela Creel has spent the past year starting a salon business, which is about to open in the building housing Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital's Community Cancer Center. But she's also spent the year waiting on word of when her husband, Christopher, will return with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion from Afghanistan.
Pamela says the wait in some ways has been more difficult than when Christopher and the unit was dispatched to help rebuild Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
"Our kids were 3 and 5 when my husband left the first time, and they almost didn't miss him that much," recalls Pamela Creel, President of the 1092nd Family Readiness group. "But now, they're 10 and 12, and it's a totally different ballgame this time around."
The families learned Tuesday their loved ones are due back in the Mid-Ohio Valley Friday morning.
"We commanded nearly 900 soldiers and worked on infrastructure and utility improvement throughout the region," says Lt. Col. Paul Stephens of the 1092nd, "and we also provided humanitarian support for orphanages and schools and hospitals and improving the buildings, just to make life better for them, and try to make them more self-sufficient."
There have been a few families whose members were newcomers to the group deployed to Afghanistan last year. And while the welcoming ceremonies may change, Creel says it's possible they may be more low-key than the parades which helped send off the company's members in 2010.
"Not that they don't want the community and friends to come," she says, encouraging them to be there when the group arrives Friday. "But they just want to get home, and they want to get back to their families again."
It isn't known whether the group will be deployed again. But come Friday morning, they will be home again.
Updated 2/16/2011 @ 11:20 am
Approximately 200 soldiers with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion are returning to West Virginia after spending nearly a year in Afghanistan.
Unit members left the Mountain State in February, 2010, for mobilization training in Wisconsin prior to deploying.
The troops are due to arrive at the Mid-Ohio Regional Airport Friday at 11:30 am. A welcome home reception with friends and family members is planned shortly after the soldiers' arrival.
For nearly a year, members of the 1092nd Engineer Battalion
conducted a diverse range of engineer operations including Civil Military Operations, vertical and horizontal construction. They worked on construction projects and developed future plans for engineer missions throughout Afghanistan's Regional Command - East.
Civil Military Operations allowed soldiers not only to construct projects
within Afghan communities, but to teach their skills to the Afghan
contractors and other local workers. Courses ranged from business management to small engine repair. In all, 13 general contractor courses were taught to dozens of Afghans. Another training initiative, the Center for Engineering Excellence, trained nearly 400 students.
The unit administered $7.1 million in civil projects, performed 25 Quality Assurance/Control missions to Sharana City to include building the first Orphanage in Paktika Province.
The unit command and controlled several engineer companies that completed various vertical and horizontal construction projects to construct combat outposts throughout their area of operations. Their efforts have improved the living conditions and increased the force protection for soldiers operating in southern Afghanistan.
Updated 2/16/2011 @ 10:40AM
Officials of the West Virginia National Guard say members of the 1092nd Engineer Battallion will be returning home Friday.
Sgt. Anna-Marie Hizer of the National Guard's public affairs office say an exact time for the unit's return will be announced later Wednesday.
The engineer company has been in Afghanistan for the past year.
Almost a year to the day after they left, members of a Parkersburg based National Guard unit will be coming home.
The 1092nd Engineer Battalion was deployed to Afghanistan last February.
Officials of the Army National Guard say the unit will be returning to Parkersburg some time in the next two weeks, although an exact date hasn't yet been finalized.
The unit also served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.
Updated 2/22/2010 at 6 p.m.
Nearly 200 West Virginia Army National Guard soldiers based in Parkersburg said their last goodbyes today before leaving for training and then to help fight the war in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of family, friends, and community members came out to the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport to send off the two C-130 aircraft taking the 1092nd Engineer Battalion to predeployment training at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.
It started with a ceremony including the Commander of the Army National Guard Major General John Barnette thanking the soldiers for their commitment and soldiers' families for their support.
One woman found herself in this same situation she was in seven years ago when her husband and daughter left for Iraq. Monday they left for a tour in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Beth Houdyshell, who is serving alongside her dad said "For the birthdays and holidays it's nice having family there somebody that you know it makes it easier." Staff Sergeant Joe Houdyshell said "Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depends on what's happening."
Naomi Houdyshell, wife and mother said "It's hard though both of them leaving."
The six-year old daughter of Sgt. Jason Barnum had one message for her her hero "I love you daddy. I'll miss you!"
Officers said the battalion will supervise field companies doing combat engineering, help provide infrastructure, and make sure roads are safe.
The unit will be at Fort McCoy for 45 days and is expected to be in Afghanistan for about a year.
Brigadier General Charles Veit said the deployment is not part of President Obama's troop surge.
Veit said over the past year soldiers have been preparing to serve in Afghanistan.
The VFW Post 1212 Ladies Auxiliary in Parkersburg, the American Legion Post 15 of Parkersburg, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Red Cross provided food and drinks to the soldiers and their families.
Several soldiers and families said they bought webcams or computers that have them built in to stay connected.
Updated 2/22/2010 at 10:50 am
Military transport planes carrying troops from the 1092nd Engineer Battalion left the MOV Regional Airport at 10:50 Monday morning for Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. From there they will head to Afghanistan.
WTAP will have a full report coming up on WTAP News at Noon.