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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | March 2, 2024

Task Force Tomahawk welcomed home from Horn of Africa

By Anthony Jones, Oklahoma National Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The more than 800 Oklahoma Army National Guard Citizen-Soldiers of Task Force Tomahawk are safely back in Oklahoma following a nine-month deployment to the Horn of Africa, with the final group of Guardsmen arriving at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base early Saturday morning.
01:49
VIDEO | 01:49 | Task Force Tomahawk returns to home after deployment to Horn of Africa
The Soldiers who arrived in Oklahoma Saturday were the final group of Guardsman from the task force to be welcomed home in a series of ceremonies that began on February 22.

Task Force Tomahawk deployed in May 2023 in support of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, where the Guardsmen provided security at sites in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and landside security for U.S. naval vessels while in port. The task force also conducted training exercises in Tanzania, Madagascar, Kenya and other East African nations in support of CJTF-HOA’s crisis response mission.

Spc. Preston Porter, a reconnaissance squad leader who was deployed to Somalia, said he is proud of the work he and his fellow Soldiers did while deployed but was filled with joy to be reconnected with his daughter.

“I was worried she wouldn’t remember who I was because she was so young when I left,” Porter said. “She remembered me and I was able to hold her and that’s what I was waiting for for whole year so it was a good feeling.”

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, the adjutant general for Oklahoma, helped welcome the first group of Soldiers home and said the ceremonies are a great way to celebrate returning heroes and to recognize the hardships families face while Guardsmen are deployed.

“This is an opportunity to share with the family members, especially the young children whose father or mother have been gone for the last year,” Mancino said. “Thank you to our Guard families. A lot of times we look at the Soldiers and thank them for their service, and that’s certainly appropriate, but behind the scenes, there’s always people that are sacrificing to allow each of these Soldiers to do this.”

Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Humerickhouse, a member of Task Force Tomahawk, reunites with family members at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Feb.  23, 2024. Task Force Tomahawk returned from a nine-month deployment in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, where the Citizen-Soldiers provided security at multiple sites across the Horn of Africa as well as manned the East African Response Force. (Oklahoma National Guard photo by Anthony Jones)
SLIDESHOW | 11 images | 240223-Z-RH707-1005 Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Humerickhouse, a member of Task Force Tomahawk, reunites with family members at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Feb. 23, 2024. Task Force Tomahawk returned from a nine-month deployment in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, where the Citizen-Soldiers provided security at multiple sites across the Horn of Africa as well as manned the East African Response Force. (Oklahoma National Guard photo by Anthony Jones)
 
In addition to thanking families, Mancino reminds Oklahomans that while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, the Oklahoma National Guard continues to deploy Guardsmen around the globe, often to dangerous places.

“These young men and women were some 20 to 30 miles from Yemen and the Houthies, and a lot of people don’t realize the proximity they were to danger,” Mancino said. “So I’d like to bring that to Oklahomans’ attention, and again, thank these Soldiers for the sacrifices that they’ve made.”

While welcoming Task Force Tomahawk home and commending these Soldiers on a job well done, Mancino also commended the Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who are still deployed across the globe.

“The Oklahoma National Guard is more deployed than any time since 2012,” Mancino said. “We have Soldiers and Airmen operating around the world in harm’s way. In any given month, we will be in three to four different continents and these young men an women continue to step up. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”


Families can find more photos from the welcome home ceremonies at https://www.flickr.com/photos/oklanationalguard/albums/72177720315100320.
Video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck
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CG: Information:
Jamey Jacob, Ph.D., P.E.
Director, Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research & Education
(00:17-00:24)
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