Tuesday night was very emotional for a group of local soldiers returning from West Africa.
The last four men and women who were part of a mission to help contain the Ebola virus outbreak returned home, flying into Augusta Regional Airport.
The soldiers spent most of the time hugging their children and they all had smiles on their faces, presumably happy to be back home. They said very little, but News Channel 6 was able to talk with Sgt. Major Michael Conaty about the mission.
“Communication support. We provided no patient care. We just augmented the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters and provided communications support,” Sgt. Major Conaty said.
Four soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 35th Signal Brigade met loved ones at the airport. The group was part of about 70 soldiers that went to Liberia on Veterans Day.
“I personally did not see any patients that had Ebola. I did not experience Ebola first hand. The symptoms are many. We see the flu, a cold and then it progresses into a disease that takes over your body,” said Sgt. Major Conaty.
Loved ones had balloons and signs to welcome the soldiers, something Sgt. Major Conaty said is a good feeling.
His son was among that group.
“It’s just awesome to know that my dad does so much hard work every single day and I’m just proud of him,” Cody Conaty said.
“We have great soldiers. We have a strong sense of duty, a good team. That part was easy. We knew we were making a difference to the people of Liberia, just being away from family was the hardest part,” said Sgt. Major Conaty.
The soldiers completed a 21-day screening at Fort Bliss, Texas to make sure they did not show any Ebola symptoms before coming home.