Guardsmen begin returning from six-month Bosnia deployment

Thursday, March 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA - Oklahoma Army National Guard members have begun returning home after spending six months in Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission.

Twelve members of an advance party - nine from Tulsa and three from Oklahoma City - were the first to return to Oklahoma after arriving on a commercial jet in Tulsa Wednesday evening, said Lt. Col. Pat Scully, the chief spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard.

They flew in from Fort Carson, Colo., headquarters of the active duty 7th Infantry Division, with which the guardsmen were integrated during the peacekeeping deployment.

Nine more guardsmen were scheduled to return Thursday, while the rest of the 176 deployed guardsmen were scheduled to return March 31, said Brig. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, commander of the 45th Infantry Brigade.

The guardsmen come from the Tulsa-based Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion 279th Infantry and the Oklahoma City-based Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion 179th Infantry.

Among those returning Wednesday was Spec. T.J. Frachiseur, 24, of Pryor, who was met by his wife, Sharae, 21.

``I'm excited. He was gone too long,'' she said.

Frachiseur, a seven-year member of the Guard, called going to Bosnia a different experience. Noting that war had scarred the area, he said the ``houses had been all shot up.''

The Bosnians, he said, ``were real nice,'' although it was evident that some ``wished you weren't there.''

He said there were no serious incidents while he was there.

The guardsmen who were deployed are scheduled to be saluted for their Bosnia duty on the state Capitol steps on April 10 by Keating and other dignitaries.

Scully said the guardsmen also would be honored that day on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives as part of the annual 45th Division appreciation day.