Gov. Eloy S. Inos, other government and private sector personnel and family members will have a “private welcoming” at the Saipan International Airport for the arrival this morning of 15 soldiers from the CNMI who had just returned from their Afghanistan deployment.
The plane from Guam carrying the soldiers is expected to arrive on Saipan at about 8:05am today.
They are among the 600 soldiers with the Guam National Guard deployed throughout Afghanistan in 2013, the largest group of reserve component troops to be mobilized and deployed from the Marianas.
Media and the general public are not allowed in the “private welcoming” inside the airport.
Marvin Seman of the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management said the private welcoming would last only 15 to 20 minutes, and the general public would be able to see and greet the returning soldiers once they get out of the airport.
The governor, in a letter to members of the Legislature, said his office has coordinated a brief reception to honor the 15 returning Guardsmen from the Guam Army National Guard 1-294th Infantry Regiment “for their heroism and dedication to our great nation.”
“Upon their arrival on Thursday, there will be a private welcoming for the soldiers with their respective family members and participation from our government agencies, private sector and community,” Inos said.
Immediately following the private welcoming is a motorcade from the Saipan International Airport, down Airport Road and to the Airport Road/Isa Drive intersection.
One of the parents of the returning soldiers, 54-year-old Joey Ejercito, earlier told Saipan Tribune he was relieved and happy to see his son for the first time in Guam Monday night. His son SPC Josh Ejercito, 21, will be among the 15 CNMI soldiers arriving on Saipan today.
“My family and friends have prepared a welcome home banner and t-shirts for his return. We’re so happy and thankful for his return,” the older Ejercito said. He will be back to Saipan a few hours before the flight of the soldiers.
The 15 soldiers from the CNMI arrived in Guam early Sunday morning, along with 265 others members of the Guam Army National Guard 1-294th Infantry Regiment. The rest of the 600 soldiers will be arriving in Guam, also from Camp Shelby in Mississippi, in the days ahead.
The CNMI governor’s office encourages the general public to participate in the welcoming of the soldiers “and display flags and yellow ribbons to show their support for the arriving Guardsmen.”