Posted: Jan 9, 2014 5:34 PM by Adrian Pittman
Updated: Jan 9, 2014 5:59 PM
RESERVE - The return of a Louisiana National Guard unit Thursday from Afghanistan was bittersweet, as many remembered a fallen comrade who was killed in action last year.
Hugs and cheers greeted the soldiers of the 1084th Transportation Company as they got off of buses today at the Guard center in Reserve. But this welcome weighed heavy on the minds of some solders because a member of their company, Specialist Christopher Drake, didn't make it.
"It's been a long and stressful journey. A lot of ups and downs," said Collin Eskine. "The loss of a brother really hit hard. It really sucks he's not here with us."
In May, Drake was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the tanker he was in. Thursday would have been his 21st birthday.
William Hernandez, who was in the tanker with Drake when the grenade hit, was on hand to greet the returning members of his company. He was sent home due to his injuries after the attack, and brought a picture of Drake with him Thursday.
"I've been carrying around a little guilt... I'm glad to see it over with," he told News 2. "We didn't train to get hurt... We train to fight."
The soldiers were in Fort Hood before returning home. Close to 160 soldiers make up the unit.