The community of Fort Lupton lined up on a cold winter snowy day waving flags, cheering, and honking the horns to welcome home 130 Colorado Army National Guard Company B “Battle” 1st Battalion 157th Infantry Regiment back home on Friday, Jan. 21.
“They are my heroes! Anybody who serves their country deserves respect. Welcome home!,” said Fort Lupton Mayor Zo Stieber.
The Company B “Battle” 1st Battalion 157th Infantry deployed about 130 soldiers to the Horn of Africa almost a year ago, on March 6. After such a long deployment, all 130 came home, arriving on three buses to where they are based. Most live in the surrounding areas.
“They were there in March to perform pre-mobilization training then traveled to the Horn of Africa,” said Staff Sargent Connor Burnett with the Battle Company 1-157 unit administrator at the Fort Lupton Colorado National Guard Armory. “Their mission was providing security forces at Camp Lemonnier Djibouti, Africa which is a much larger base. I think it’s great that all of them came back and performed their mission well.”
The Horn of Africa is in the eastern region of Africa with countries Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
Solomon and his wife April Mondragon drove from Alamosa to welcome their son Andreas,on one of the arriving buses, back home.
“We have our son Andres back. It’s been one heck of a ride for us. We’ve been holding down the fort. It’s been a hard time, but we’re so excited that he’s back home and he’s safe,” said Solomon Mondragon.
Gabe Evans, a former UH-60 Blackhawk pilot with Colorado National Guard and is now running for Colorado House District 48 also was there with his son to welcome Company B back home.
“Welcome back to Company B! I know what it’s like to be deployed, and I know what it’s like to come home. I’ll never forget this day,” said Evans.
“My little boy was 18 months old when I came home, and I can remember every minute of it. I just wanted to make sure that we show these guys the same honor that was showed to me when I came back and they were all here with flags flying.”