HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - The 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's first flight home was greeted at Hunter Army Airfield by the commanding general of First Army Division East as well as Florida's adjutant general and assistant adjutant general with words of encouragement and job well done.

Maj. Gen. Mick Bednarek, Division East commanding general, Air Force Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, Jr., adjutant general, Florida National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Don Tyre, assistant adjutant general, shook hands with each of the 152 Soldiers from the 53rd early Sunday morning as they got off the plane stepped foot back on American soil.

After accounting for sensitive items and watching a video providing an overview of the demobilization process the Florida Soldiers would follow, they were bused to Cottrell Field, on Fort Stewart, for their homecoming ceremony and to start their demobilization.

"Meeting the standard of Focused Soldier Care is our number-one priority throughout the demobilization," said Bednarek. "No Soldier will leave Fort Stewart until all his or her needs have been satisfactorily validated and addressed."

The 188th Infantry Brigade has partnered with Joint Forces Headquarters - Florida, Fort Stewart Garrison Command, Fort Stewart U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Stewart U.S. Army Dental Activity and Defense Finance and Accounting Service to respond to the 53rd's demobilization requirements.

All of the units involved expressed their commitment to assisting the Soldiers of the 53rd to complete the tasks of the First Army demobilization process.

"We have worked closely with the 53rd IBCT and the Florida Joint Forces Headquarters to clearly assess, understand and prepare for individual Soldier reintegration needs," said Col. Robert A. Warburg, 188th Infantry Brigade commander. "Special emphasis has been placed on medical and behavioral health issues, as well as other potential challenges facing these redeploying Citizen-Soldiers."

Florida's largest National Guard unit, the 53rd "Gator Brigade," with approximately 2,500 Soldiers, served nine months in Kuwait and Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom during the draw-down of U.S. forces in Iraq. The brigade is set to make its transition back to the states as seamless as possible.

The 188th Infantry Brigade, along with the other training support brigades in First Army Division East, provides and facilitates theater-focused training for deploying National Guard and Reserve formations and assists with redeployment and demobilizing following deployment. Based out of Fort Stewart, the 188th has been training deploying National Guard and Reserve units for Iraq deployments continuously since 2003.