Utah soldiers return home from Afghanistan (video)

By nate carlisle

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: January 25, 2014 10:47AM
Updated: January 26, 2014 06:10PM
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Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Jack Curzon runs to his father 1st Lt. Lance Curzon of the Utah Army National Guard’s 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade as he returns to Utah from a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan. Lance was met by his children Jack, Camden, Ruby and his wife Amy. The mission of the 204th was to conduct base operations and base defense for U.S. military installations in Northern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soldiers returned home at the Salt Lake City International Airport Friday, January 24, 2014.

Staff Sgt. Cortny Barton ran from her airplane, through the terminal and down the escalator into the arms of her two children at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Barton, a 25-year-old Riverton resident, was one of about 25 Utah Army National Guard soldiers who returned home Friday from a 10-month deployment in Afghanistan.

“Did they have cactuses?” Barton’s 6-year-old son, Wyatt Perry, asked his mother a few minutes after her arrival.

“No, they didn’t have any cactus,” she replied. “They didn’t even have any trees.”

The soldiers belong to the 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. They operated and defended a base in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. They arrived at Camp Shelby, Miss., last week.

Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, a spokesman for the Utah National Guard, said the 204th did not suffer any casualties, though a handful of soldiers remain at Camp Shelby for minor medical issues.

McIntire said about 200 Utah National Guard soldiers remain deployed, primarily in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Among those who held welcoming signs and cheered as the soldiers came down the escalator was the family of Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Baum. In civilian life, he’s a firefighter in Spanish Fork. His mother, Karma Baum, said her son’s street was lined with American Flags on Friday and a Spanish Fork fire truck would be there, too, to welcome him home.

But Ryan Baum’s oldest son was absent Friday. He left Monday for a LDS Church mission in Chicago.

“It’s hard for a grown man to leave his family — a wife and four sons,” Karma Baum said.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle