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St. Croix Welcomes Back 610th Quartermaster Company

Oct. 31, 2006 It was all Halloween treats for the members of the V.I. National Guard 610th Quartermaster Company as 23 soldiers touched down Tuesday at Henry Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix after 14 months in Iraq.
Two V.I. Port Authority fire trucks sprayed columns of water in salute to the giant C-17 military transport plane, which brought the soldiers back home. Disembarking from the airplane, the 23 Crucian troops marched toward the main airport building, where they were greeted with another Halloween treat — friends and family.
Inside the baggage claim room, a large crowd of people had gathered with yellow balloons and American flags, and a huge roar of delight greeted the soldiers as they walked in.
The Crucian soldiers were mobbed by happy relatives and friends relieved to have their fathers, husbands and wives back from the war zone of Iraq.
"It feels so good to be back," said a smiling Spc. (Specialist) Leonard Richards. "Its about time."
The 610th has spent the last year doing several missions. Their main job was running a water-purification plant at Camp Anaconda, purifying water from the Tigris River to distribute to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq. According to Richards, who worked on pump maintenance, the V.I. soldiers also did tower guard duty and convoy security.
This was the second welcome home ceremony for the Crucian soldiers. Earlier in the day, they were feted along with the other 79 members of the 610th at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas (See "Hugs, Tears of Joy Greet Returning V.I. National Guard Soldiers").
But for the 23 soldiers, this homecoming was even more special because they were reunited with their family and friends.
During a brief ceremony in the airport's hospitality room, the soldiers commanding officers had nothing but praise for their troops.
"They operated as warriors and came back as heroes," said Sgt. Major Berry Fredericks. "These guys can teach others how to keep it together under bad situations."
He said that he was especially proud of the fact that there were no injuries or deaths among the 610th. He said it was due to their exceptional training. "It was a tough job. It wasnt easy, but they paid attention to details," Fredericks said.
Adj. Gen. Eddy Charles said the company purified "millions of gallons of water" for U.S. troops. He joked that he would hate to be in Iraq right now because the water being purified now is probably not as good.
"But I thank God to have them all back in one piece and safe," Charles said.
Delegate Donna Christensen called the 610th heroes and brought them a special message from the students at Lew Muckle Elementary School.
The students had printed up large posters saying "Good Job, Good Job, Good Job."
"Its a real pleasure to welcome you back home," said Christensen.
For Spc. Richards, the joy of coming home from war had its own rewards.
"Im just looking to relax with my family and enjoy some real home-cooked food," Richards said with a big grin.
The St. Croix contingent of the 610th Quartermaster Company are 1st Lt. Steve Alexander, Sgt. Akil Andrews, Spc. Joann Bailey, Spc. Eric Barnes, Pfc. Nikiella Barthlett, Spc. Ashel Bunche, Spc. Diane Fox, Sgt. 1st Class Milton Francis, Sgt. Alvin Franklin, Spc. Sherelle Freeman, Cpl. Luis Frontal, Spc. Reuel Harris, Spc. Shirley Henry, Spc. Latoya John, Spc. Kevin Johnson, Pfc. Damion Kerr, Spc. Azalea Macedon, Pfc. Neftali Melendez, Spc. Leonard Richards, Spc. Desarie Romain, Spc. Neysha Soto, Sgt. 1st Class Fitzroy Tutein and Sgt. Julian Williams.
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