May 10, 2017 -- After spending more than nine-months away from family, friends and loved ones, a group of Army Reserve Soldiers were officially welcomed home here during a Welcome Home Warrior ceremony held at the McGill Training Center, April 2.

The Soldiers, assigned to Detachment 21, Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group, 335th Signal Command (Theater), were deployed to Kuwait conducting signal and cyber networking operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Among those on hand to greet the Soldiers were Col. Michael D. Smith, the ARCOG commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Eddy, the ARCOGs senior enlisted Soldier, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Hembrook, the ARCOG's Command Chief Warrant Officer, and Lt. Col. Michael Ehrenhofer, commander of the ARCOG's National Capital Region Cyber Protection Center.

Other distinguished guests included Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, the lieutenan governor of Maryland, Brig. Gen. John Phillips, deputy commanding general of operations, 335th SC (T), and U.S. Army Col. Jean M. Hulet (Retired), who is now the State Chair for the Maryland Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

"This is our first battle assembly weekend since returning," said Lt. Col. William Bardon, commander of Detachment 21. "The command wanted to officially welcome us back and celebrate some of the achievements our team accomplished during the deployment."

Among those achievements were the reaccreditation of the Southwest Asia Tier 1 Network security polices, operation of one of the lead regional cyber security centers and being one of only two teams that placed second during a global cyber security training exercise.

During the official ceremony, the Detachment received warm regards for their safe return home and each returning Soldier was presented with an honorary U.S. Flag encased in a decorative wooden display case.

Although each Soldiers deployment experience was different, some were able to use the opportunity to enhance themselves and their careers. "The opportunity to work on this mission fostered growth and my professional development," said Sgt. Christine Clark, a reserve Soldier and warrant officer candidate, assigned to Det. 21. In addition to submitting her warrant officer packet while deployed, Clark also took online courses at the U.S. Army Central Command Signal University at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

Those in attendance shared smiles and warm wishes with the returning Soldiers and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to share the special moment with them.

"Today was one of the best experiences I have had as the state chair for the ESGR," said Hulet. "The reason has to do with having all three families together as one. We have the service members, the family members and employers here, and each play a vital role in our nation's defense."