Home at last – Battery A returns from Afghanistan

Capt. Sean Bryant of Edmond, commander of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade, Oklahoma Army National Guard, leads his troops into the Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center in Mustang. The unit returned to Oklahoma July 8 from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo/Courtesy Maj. Geoff Legler, Oklahoma National Guard Public Affairs)

By Traci Chapman

About 80 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers headquartered in Mustang were welcomed home Monday after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Battery A, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade was sent last September to support coalition forces in Afghanistan. The unit returned to Oklahoma July 8 and were formally welcomed during a ceremony attended by National Guard officers, family members and area residents, held at Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center.

While in Afghanistan, soldiers provided route security and served as convoy escorts during several missions, Oklahoma National Guard officials said. Members of Battery B, 171st Target Acquisition Battery and 120th Forward Support Company were also deployed with forces headquartered at MAFRC. Battery A was commanded by Capt. Sean Bryant of Edmond.

Battery A forces made history Jan. 16 when they provided “indirect artillery fire support” to coalition forces in Afghanistan. Using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, MAFRC soldiers fired two rockets in support of Task Force Duke, destroying a communications repeater sight, officials said.

A repeater sight is used to assist insurgents in their fight against coalition forces, officials said.

This combat operation support was the first time since Operation Desert Storm an Oklahoma Army National Guard Unit fired rockets, officials said. Battery A’s launcher crew included gunner, Spc. Joshua Hale of Chickasha, driver, Staff Sgt. Steven Stanley of Carnegie, and launcher, Chief Sgt. Matthew Schoolfield of Ninnekah.

During Desert Storm, the unit fired 903 rockets, officials said. Hale’s father, Spc. Chad Hale, and Sgt. Richard Schoolfield, Schoolfield’s father, were part of the unit’s Desert Storm deployment, which deployed 429 National Guard soldiers during the Gulf War.

Mustang’s guard was replaced last month by its sister unit, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery.