Families, friends welcome home Agribusiness Development Team from Afghanistan

ACH

Story by Dave Altom/Public Affairs Office

Photos by Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile/133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

Logan Corson, Brooklyn Corson, Gracie Cheek, Hunter Corson, Logan Couch and Hannah Couch anxiously await the arrival of the bus bringing back Staff Sgt. Catherine Corson from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. Catherine, Logan, Brooklyn and Hunter's mom, was one of 64 Kentucky Army and Air Guardsmen who returned to the Boone National Guard Center July 2. Catherine deployed with the Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team to provide training and advice to Afghan universities, ministries and farmers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 8, 2010) — Hundreds of friends and family members joined together in welcoming home the Kentucky National Guard’s first Agribusiness Development Team in a ceremony held at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort July 2. 

 The sixty-four Soldiers and Airmen served a year-long tour in Afghanistan performing a unique mission:  helping Afghan citizens improve agricultural productivity and become active in the economy.  In addition to working with local farmers on improving irrigation and soil erosion issues, the Guardsmen worked with the Afghanistan Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and Al Biruni University in Kapisa province in developing extension agent training and teaching modern veterinary techniques.

Kentucky National Guard Staff Sgt. Catherine Corson greets her children, Brooklyn, 3, Logan, 5, and Hunter, 12, after a year-long Afghanistan Deployment. Corson was one of 64 Kentucky Army and Air Guardsmen to return July 2, to the Boone National Guard Center with the Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team. The Kentucky ADT was responsible for the largest battle space assigned to any ADT in theater, and successfully implemented 74 projects to improve the Afghan agriculture in its area of operation.

 The Kentuckians also provided guidance in privatizing veterinary practices, which is unheard of in Afghanistan.  They also trained Afghan women in beekeeping, giving them means to making a living.  In all, the team drove through 8,500 miles in hostile territory, performing 500 combat missions and completing 79 major projects during their tour of duty. 

 Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky, hailed the team’s mission as historic. 

 “They had the unique responsibility of bringing some good old home grown Kentucky agricultural know how to a people plagued by decades and decades of war,” Tonini said.  “But, of course, the best news is that everyone came home safely.  That, to me, is the most remarkable accomplishment of all.”

 The mission was especially rewarding for the Kentucky troops.

 “We developed close relationships with the local citizens,” said Col. Mike Farley, commander of the team.  “When we were preparing to leave we were told ‘We’re never going to see you again.’  That’s when you know you’re making a difference.”

 Farley credited his security team and drivers for bringing everyone home safely.  

 “Our Soldiers were praised for the professional way they handled potential threats,” he said.  “These guys are the reason we all came home.”

 A second team of Kentucky Army and Air Guard agricultural specialists took over the mission last month.  A third team is preparing deploy next year. 

Col. Mike Farley, commander of the Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 1, stands watch over the 64 Soldiers and Airmen assigned to his company during a welcome home ceremony July 2. The Soldiers and Airmen returned to the Boone National Guard Center after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

 Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2010/07/03/1333999/returning-kentucky-national-guard.html

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