National Guardsmen return to Jax from border mission

14 soldiers returned home following 10-month deployment

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - At dusk on Friday night, National Guardsmen returned to Jacksonville from the Southwest border mission. 

The guardsmen left for the mission in early February. 

"Just can't wait to get a little bit of sleep, a little rest," said Staff Sgt. Mark Rickel.

"It's great, great. Couple days here then back home, so it's good. Glad to be back," said Don Baker. 

14 members of the aviation unit served for 10 months on border patrol in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The group worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"Just supporting the border patrol. It's basically a traditional army mission. Just border patrol happens to be our infantry. We spot things, report it to them, they go and make the apprehensions," said Don Baker.

Using LUH-72 Lakota helicopters, the unit completed 259 missions. 

"One of big things, we're the first unit to get these aircraft, first mission to get this equipment package on these aircraft. So we've got the experience and the knowledge," said Baker.

The group safely flew more than 1,000 hours. B Company said it helped with more than 2,600 apprehensions over the last 10 months and kept 10,000 pounds of illegal drugs off the streets of America.

"I'm very happy, pleased with the results. Best thing, everyone came home safe. no issues with the aircraft. It was a great mission," said Rickel.

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