Arizona National Guard unit returns from Qatar

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX  -- An Army National Guard returned to Arizona Thursday after serving in Qatar in the war against terrorism.

The National Guard says 70 soldiers of the Phoenix-based headquarters detachment of the 850th Military Police Battalion arrived at the Air National Guard facility at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Families gathered there to greet their loved ones.

"When we came through the doors it was an overwhelming feeling of joy," said returning soldier Tim Ballard.

Tim is the new dad of twins, who were born while he was deployed. His wife was thrilled to see him after such a long absence.

"It took everything in me not to charge through the area to get to him," says Samantha Ballard.

The Guard says the detachment served as the headquarters for units assigned in Qatar and elsewhere in the region. The unit conducted reconnaissance and base support operations for operation enduring freedom.

According to the Guard, the soldiers are from 25 communities in Arizona and one in Colorado.

Dad Daniel Rush couldn't wait to say welcome home to his daughter.

"Twenty-two years ago, I came home from overseas, and when I got off the plane, my wife Sally handed me a day old baby. This young lady right here," said Rush.

His daughter Mary was equally happy to see her dad.

"Military-wise, he's given me a lot of advice and helped me grow as a soldier," she said. "Also as a person but definitely as a soldier. We've been through the same experience and this deployment made us much closer, and just being back in his arms is the most unique feeling I ever experienced.

The Arizona National Guard's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Hugo E. Salazar,  presided over the homecoming ceremony.

More than 10,000 Arizona Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been ordered to federal active duty in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Noble Eagle, and other overseas contingency operations, as well as border security missions since September 2001.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.