Happy, Enthusiastic Homecoming For 45th Soldiers In OKC

Thursday, March 22nd 2012, 6:39 pm
By: News 9

Almost 200 members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were back home Thursday.

Soldiers from Oklahoma's 45th were welcomed back home at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base Thursday morning.  The group was one of the larger ones to return since the 45th began demobilizing a few months back.

Maj. Gen.(Ret) LaRita Aragon addressed the troops and thanked their families.

"We know the sacrifices you have made," said Aragon.  "So that our soldiers travel a world away to bring freedom."

3/22/2012 Related Story: Hugs, Tears, Even A Marriage Proposal At Welcome Home Ceremony For Oklahoma National Guard

Maj. Gen. Myles Deering also addressed the 45th, and mentioned the fact that President Obama was in Oklahoma just a few miles up the road.

"Today the President of the United States is in the state of Oklahoma," said Deering.  "But I can think of no other place I'd rather be than welcome these brave soldiers home."

In the mad rush to find family members, two soldiers became engaged.  Sergeant Warren Fairleigh dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend Specialist Bethany Pierce who readily accepted.

Pierce returned home form Afghanistan today and Fairleigh returned just last week.  Fairleigh told reporters what he and Pierce might do next.

"Get married," said Fairleigh.  "We'll probably go out to eat first, but we're gonna get married."

Elated with his new engagement, Fairleigh remembered his fallen brothers from the 45th.

"This is definitely the hardest deployment I've ever done, " he said.  "I'm excited, but our thoughts and prayers are always with the families of the people that can't be here."