Soldiers of B Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 143rd Infantry Regiment returned to the United States on November 8 after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan where they conducted security forces missions throughout dangerous areas in the war-torn country. Troops were there to ensure the safety of reconstruction teams working to rebuild the area.
Spc. Zachary Sparks, of Eagle River, deployed to Afghanistan with his brother. He said that deploying and seeing first-hand the past challenges soldiers faced made coming home in time for Veterans Day even more special.
"Coming home from this deployment and being a combat veteran of the United States military gives me a whole new outlook on what Veterans Day means," Sparks said. "Now I understand what soldiers who came before me went through and the real meaning of the holiday, which is to honor all soldiers who have made sacrifices for the freedoms we have today."
Returning soldier Spc. Coleman Wenke, from North Pole, comes from a long history of military men and women. He said that Veterans Day has always been a celebrated part of his life, but it holds more meaning to him now because he's walked in his ancestors' shoes.
"My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents were or still are in the military," Wenke said. "Veterans Day was always a big party of my family, but I think it's more significant now because I now have a better understanding of the sacrifices that they had to make for our freedoms. The significance of sacrifice on Veterans Day is huge, it means people have died for our freedoms, and that's something we should never forget."
Alaska Army National Guard Cpl. Daniel Thornton, of Wasilla, has served in different wars and has gone on multiple deployments. He feels that regardless of whether a soldier has been deployed multiple times or not, the fact that they knowingly volunteer to serve and protect the United States and our freedoms is something to honor.
"I think Veterans Day is significant to all of us, especially those of us that have served in the past," Thornton said. "Every soldier that wears the uniform understands that deploying is something that we may have to do. We are willing to give up our lives to fight for the American way of life and know that it's a possibility every time we extend or enlist, but we are willing to take that chance because we love our country."
Thank you to all of the veterans that have served our country. Your service is greatly appreciated.
Contact Jessica Ridgway