Returning from active duty at Charleston, S.C., the "Road Warriors" of Company B, 38th Main Support Battalion of the Indiana National Guard has begun the process of returning to civilian life.
Arriving in Brazil early Tuesday morning, 110 soldiers gathered to wait for the 8 a.m. check-in and the information they would need to be demobilized.
There was laughter in the air as the unit shared Christmas stories, remembrances of the past year and jokingly complained about the frosty welcome home.
When the unit left Charleston last week, it was 70 degrees.
Company Commander Capt. Erik Parker, of Indianapolis, spent the past year working closely with the soldiers from the Brazil unit as they completed their mission. They loaded and unloaded military equipment while providing security for the Naval Weapons Station at Charleston.
"In 10 months we moved over 250,000 pieces of equipment," Capt. Parker said. "Our soldiers supported installations across the U.S., as well as many units in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom."
Commissioned in 1941, Charleston is the busiest port in the defense transportation system of the Army. The group loaded and unloaded equipment headed to installations around the country and to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
For half of the unit, this was their first time away from home. Approximately 50 soldiers are 19-25 years old.
"They learned about life," Capt. Parker said. "They're ready to start looking for jobs, and are excited to return to their lives."
E4 Spc. John Timpe of Brazil may be more anxious to return to civilian life than some others.
While staying at the Days Inn Motel in Charleston, Timpe met his future wife.
Bobbie, also a resident of Brazil, met Timpe while vacationing at the same motel. Five days later, the couple had a June wedding.
"You'd be surprised at who you meet while on a tour of duty," Spc. Timpe said, hugging his wife. "I sure didn't expect to meet my wife."
"I left here to go on vacation with a cousin, and found half of Brazil at the motel we stayed at," Bobbie Timpe said, laughing.
Snuggled up in a corner, Haleigh West, a first grader at Clay City Elementary, smiled and waved at every soldier who passed.
"I'm waiting on my sister," Haleigh said, pointing towards a young woman with blonde hair stuffed under a black beret.
E4 Spc. Jamie West, the big sister in question, stopped talking to E4 Spc. Shilo Raulston to pat the little girl on the head.
During the past year, the two sisters kept in touch by "talking a lot on the phone."
Hayleigh said of her older sister, "She drives big trucks."
After setting nearly empty for months, the Brazil armory will be a busy place again and many area soldiers can get back to their normal routines.