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Mo. National Guard unit returns from Afghanistan

1st Lt. Daniel Ashton of Arnold and his wife, Jennifer.
St. Louis Public Radio
1st Lt. Daniel Ashton of Arnold and his wife, Jennifer.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – About 60 Missouri National Guard members have returned home from Afghanistan.

The returning group is yet another Agricultural Development Team that was assigned to Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province.

First Lt. Daniel Ashton of Arnold says he and his fellow soldiers did have a few close calls.

"I.E.D.'s mainly...fortunately, we brought everybody home," Daniel Ashton said.

Jennifer, the Lieutenant's wife, says she's happy to have him back.

"You learn how to be self-reliant, you learn how to take care of yourself, but you never stop missing your best friend," Jennifer Ashton said.

The Missouri Guard unit was officially welcomed back by Governor Jay Nixon at a ceremony inside the State Capitol Building.

The 60 soldiers and airmen spent the past 11 months helping Afghan farmers with growing crops and working on other projects.

Lt. Colonel Tim Hartman from the St. Louis area says for the most part, the locals treated them well.

"Being farmers, they understood that we were there to help, and I think that helped a lot...90 percent of the population is fine...they just want everything to be over and (to be) in a stable country...unfortunately, there's five percent that don't care and five percent that don't want us (there), so you work with the ones that do...(you) do the best you can with them," Hartman said.

Another Missouri National Guard agricultural team is currently stationed in Afghanistan, having left in September. It's due to return in about 10 months.