Local National Guardsmen return home after almost a year overseas
EASTON, Md. – Carrying flags and holding signs of support, Marylanders both young and old rallied at the Maryland Army National Guard Readiness Center. Eight members of the 729th Support Company returned home to hugs and cheers after spending just under a year in Poland. “It’s a quartermaster company. So we have fuelers that provide fuel for the different units, transportation units and what not,” said Staff Sergeant Stephen Leonard.
SSG. Leonard says there were soldiers in Romania and Lithuania during the deployment. Fuel wasn’t their only job though. The company also helped with maintenance and supplying clean drinking water for their brothers and sisters overseas. “We also had water purification teams. They were providing water for cleaning, like for the hand sanitation, for the chow hall,” said SSG. Leonard.
The company was also supposed to be helping out with Defender-Europe 2020, a deployment exercise to build preparedness and strategic skills. “We were supposed to be part of Operation Defender. But that kind of got canceled and really drawn down because of COVID. But we were still supporting all of the units that were in Poland,” said First Lieutenant Zane Fanning.
1LT. Fanning says that seeing everyone there showing support was a welcome sight. He says especially after the long time away from home, and worries about their loved ones amid a global pandemic. “You feel the pandemic with all the worries that are going on. It’s a big day to see everybody because everyone had their concerns,” said 1LT. Fanning.