Tearful smiles, affectionate embraces and sincere thanks were in abundance at the welcome home ceremony in honor of Colorado National Guard Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team-3, May 6 in Centennial, Colo.
OMLT-3 returned from a year-long tour that included training in Europe, followed by six months in Afghanistan, working with a Slovenian contingent to help train Afghan forces.
Slovenia is one of the CONG’s two partner countries in the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
OMLT-3 provided logistical support to the Slovene contingent, whose primary mission was mentoring the Afghan National Army.
“We are happy to perform missions like these with our State Partnership Program with the Slovenian Forces,” said Adjutant General of Colorado Brig. Gen. H. Michael Edwards. “It’s vital to maintain the ability to work together. This is a team effort and we need to work together to be successful in our endeavors.”
“When we send a team forward, they are made up of Soldiers who volunteered, so there is no doubt in your mind as a commander that they want to go,” Edwards said. “We expect solid, good performance and that’s what we’ve seen, they’ve done a great job, I’m very proud of them.”
During the ceremony, Colorado Assistant Adjutant General for Army Brig. Gen. Dana Capozzella thanked Maj. Christopher McKee, OMLT-3 commander, for a job well done and bringing everyone home safely. Capozzella said missions like these cement the friendship with our allies the Slovenians.
McKee said the group worked well together with each other and Slovenian forces, and while no deployment is without its hardships the group really gelled and completed the mission successfully.
“It was very good, they (the Slovenians) are good people and it was very rewarding. It was challenging at times working with another country. They treated us well in Slovenia, the hospitality was wonderful. Working in a NATO environment was very different, unique experience.”
McKee has deployed three times with CONG and said that he could not have asked for a better group of Soldiers to deploy with and that the different skills and personalities of the team complimented each other and worked together seamlessly.
Sgt. Shawn Harpstrite, armament repairman for OLMT-3 found the mission educational for the opportunity to work with the Slovene contingent.
“It was a very unique experience,” Harpstrite said. “I’m happy to be home.”