Receiving a heroes’ welcome back to O’ahu late last night and early this morning were at least some of the Kaua’i citizen-solders of the Hawaii Army National Guard, all of whom are most likely already at least out of Iraq and on their way home now, said Maj. Charles Anthony, spokesperson for the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Governor Linda Lingle and Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general, greeted the first 238 returning soldiers at Kalaeloa, Barbers Point, along with some of the citizen-soldiers’ family members, late last night.
Another plane load of citizen-soldiers, also including some Kauaians, was scheduled to arrive around 1:30 a.m. today, and another plane load on Saturday, said Anthony and Maj. Brooks Akana.
soldiers on both the flights last night and this morning, Anthony confirmed.
Most if not all of the roughly 100 Kaua’i citizen-soldiers are either out of Iraq or on their way out of Iraq, if they are not already in or beyond Kuwait on their way home, unless they are with what in military terms is considered a “rear detachment,” Anthony explained.
Those with the rear detachments may not get out of Iraq until later this month, he said.
The Neighbor Island citizen-soldiers will be demobilized as quickly as possible, and returned to Guard status (for service one weekend a month and two weeks a year annual training) from active-duty status as quickly as possible, so they can get home and resume their civilian lives, he said.
Some, though, who missed out on professional military education (PME) that could have qualified them for promotions during their 18 months of active duty, may decide to stay on active duty for a few more weeks, in order to get the PME necessary to qualify them for promotions in rank, he explained.
Because their superiors want them to get home to the Neighbor Islands as quickly as possible, the Neighbor Island soldiers have demobilization priority over their O’ahu-based citizen-soldiers, Anthony added.