Friends, Family Welcome Tulsa Black Hawk Crews Home

Tuesday, September 28th 2010, 10:25 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- SkyNews 6 pilot Will Kavanagh and Company B, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation returned to Tulsa Tuesday afternoon.

Kavanagh and the rest of the aviation soldiers have been serving in Iraq for almost a year. They arrived at Fort Sill in Lawton last week.

9/23/2010 Related story: Tulsa-Based National Guard Soldiers Back In Oklahoma From Iraq

The soldiers were welcomed home in a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the Army Aviation Support Facility at 4220 North Mingo Valley Expressway.

The anticipation of seeing her husband brought Jennifer Freeman to tears of joy.

"Oh I've already got my pocket loaded with Kleenex," she said. "I'm ready."

The soldiers were honored and led by a police escort, flanked by the stars and stripes of the freedom riders. Then one by one they proudly stepped off the bus, each one grinning from ear to ear.

After a brief ceremony, the soldiers rushed to their loved ones and the emotions overflowed.

"Seeing everybody when they came in," Kavanagh said. "All the families and friends. Again overwhelming. Like the commander said. You just sit there and try to absorb all the feelings and all that you are trying to get."

"It's overwhelming," Donnie Eldridge said. "The amount of joy is just like a sense of relief that it's over and at the same time I know in a couple days I'll be missing these guys that I served with.

Will told News On 6 reporter Tara Vreeland he's looking forward to some rest and relaxation but then he's also excited to get "back in that bird," meaning SkyNews 6.

Company B is headquartered in Tulsa and operates and maintains UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

While in Iraq, Company B provided air assault support to forward combat elements flying more than 9,000 hours and more than 1,700 combat missions.