MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Citizen warriors from the 339th Movement Control Team deployed to Jalalabad, Afghanistan for most of 2011 and came back earlier this year, mission accomplished.
The Army Reservists were honored with the Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award for their service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
At a ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1786 in Manhattan, all of the unit's soldiers received an encased U.S. flag, the Welcome Home Warrior Citizen flag, the Global War on terrorism Expeditionary Medal and a lapel pin.
21 men and women deployed with the 339th Movement Control Team.
"Small numbers big mission," said Staff Sergeant Curtis Hamilton, the 339th's Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge.
The detachment was tasked with a critical mission to provide logistical support and accountability and move air cargo, passengers and supply from the U.S., via Pakistan, to troops throughout Afghanistan.
"To fight the fight, you actually need supplies to fight. And we ensure that those supplies get from one place to the other," Hamilton said.
It was a tough assignment for the soldiers, and loved ones knew it would put them in harm's way.
PFC Jordan Dixson said one of the toughest part of the job was the disconnect from friends and family back home.
"Being separated and at the same time having a mission every day that's probably the toughest part," he said.
"It was very nerve-wrecking," Cassie Reynolds, Dixson's girlfriend, said. The two had been dating for just a few months when he deployed.
"I never thought I would be in that position," she said. "But at the same time, I have to support him. especially when he's going into service for our country," she said.
Like many in his unit, Dixson says he couldn't have made it without his family and friend's support.
They, in turn, say they find comfort in his service.
"Of course [there is] that nervousness. Is he safe, is he okay," mother Saleese Dixson said. "But the long term and overall focus was that he's serving his country and being honorable, doing something honorable for his country and for his family," she said.
The 339th Movement Control Team also received two Bronze Star Medals, six Joint Commendation Medals, 13 Army Commendation Medals and 3 Army Achievement Medals among its recognitions.
There's one more achievement, soldiers are thankful for.
"Even though we had a very dangerous mission where we were in up-armored vehicles going outside the gate every day, we were able to bring everyone home just the way that they went," Hamilton said. "And I will take that any day of the week."