The National Guard's 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) returned to the United States over the weekend to a welcoming ceremony at the University of Central Missouri's Multipurpose Center on Sunday (Feb. 9).

The 1-135th ARB had been deployed to Afghanistan in March 2013 under the leadership of Lt. Col. James Schreffler and Command Sergeant Major David Gail with over 300 soldiers to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. According to a press release from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command North, the soldiers first spent several months in Idaho learning how to operate a new brand of Apache attack helicopter before advancing to Texas, where they integrated elements of an active duty unit to create a unit that included Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters.

They were transformed from an air attack outfit into a far more complex and comprehensive helicopter unit that supported a diverse set of missions across the largest regional command here in Afghanistan, a tract of Afghan real estate that borders three countries and includes stunning mountains as well as vast arid high desert.

The unit worked around the clock ferrying troops and materials to and from this and other small satellite bases, supporting special operations missions and even transporting a handful of celebrities. They also served as critical links in the logistics hub tasked with closing bases in line with the drawdown of coalition troops.

The troops of Task Force Reaper were part of a massive effort to transfer authority of Forward Operating Base Kunduz to Afghan control.

The men and women of the 1-135th received a great welcoming back on Sunday afternoon as friends and family gathered along with Governor Jay Nixon and Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general,at the UCM Multipurpose Center for the ceremony.

The following photos in the gallery are courtesy of Amy Epple and Juel Madden of Timeless Reflections in Warrensburg.

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