497th MCT soldiers return home - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

497th MCT soldiers return home

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - 19 families are once again enjoying the company of their soldiers Friday night. The 497th movement control team returned to Fort Benning after a 9 month deployment to Afghanistan. The room was full of anticipation as families and friends awaited their soldiers return. Even for those who have experienced this before, it was a heartfelt moment when the men and women returned.

The seats were full as mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers waited for their loved ones to return. After 9 months in Afghanistan, the 497th movement control team made their way back to Fort Benning Friday. The Thornton family was one of the first in the room waiting for their soldier Tyler, to come home. It was his first deployment.

"It's just a big difference from what we're used to. We're both army brats all of us. But it's a lot different from having your dad deploy then having your brother deploy," said Layne Thornton.

Even for the families who have experienced this kind of reunion, every time is unique. For the Hardy family, this is Chad's second deployment. But this 9 months was a bitter sweet experience. Both of his grandmothers passed away when he was in Afghanistan.

"Chad encouraged us. Kept us strong to pull through it and we did, we pulled through it," said Maureen Pete Hardy.

"We overcame adversity and with the support of both my parents it just made it that much easier to continue on with the mission and focus on the mission and to come back home," said Chad Hardy.

The group was responsible for one of the largest missions in United States history. They were tasked with retrograde, moving supplies and equipment out of Afghanistan. Their commander, Rorrie Janker was also separated from her husband Captain Paul Janker for 9 months.

"She's my best friend so it's great to have her back," said Janker.

The Thornton family, along with all the others, share the same sentiment.

"It's time for him to come home and we're all super just anxious and ready for him to get home and with us," said Layne Thornton.

The 497th MCT cleared a backlog of more than 3,000 movement requests while in Afghanistan. The soldiers will go through a weeks' long reintegration process then have block leave.

Naomi Keitt

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