Last Fort Drum soldiers return home from Afghanistan

Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - It was a day of reunion and hope, as soldiers, who took to Afghanistan as the country unraveled, returned safely to Fort Drum.

Jennifer Hardy was here to see her daughter, 1st Lt. Haylie Hardy.

“We’re just so excited to see her, we can’t wait to see her, she doesn’t know we are coming so it will be a big surprise,” Hardy said.

135 soldiers with the 23rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade were welcomed home to hugs and cheers.

“It is so awesome that my family was able to come and support me,” 1st Lt. Hardy said. “I’m super grateful for them and I’m happy to be home.”

Hardy’s unit executed a short notice deployment last month as Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban. They assisted at the airport in Kabul during the U-S evacuation efforts. It was an effort that became even more dangerous after ISIS-K fighters attacked crowds outside the airport with gunfire and a suicide bomb. The attack claimed the life of dozens, including 13 U-S troops.

“You’re like oh my goodness is that my husband?” said Courtney Ovenshire. “Did something happen? It was just not a good experience.”

Courtney Ovenshire’s husband suffered a minor injury in a separate incident while deployed. Ovenshire say’s getting that call was scary given what was going on in Afganistan, but she’s grateful to have her husband home safe and sound.

“I think it’s a great day to do it on, too (Sept. 11th),” Ovenshire said. “To see them, and then remember everything else that happened this day too- so it’s great to have everybody get together for it.”

The 23rd is the last unit assigned to Fort Drum to return home after supporting operations in Afghanistan. Elements from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division remain deployed supporting Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans.

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