FARMINGTON — Cheering and clapping erupted from family and friends Thursday afternoon at Sycamore Park Community Center as they welcomed home 15 soldiers with the 919th Military Police Company who had been serving on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Lights and sirens of a police escort signaled their arrival from Albuquerque at about 1 p.m.

"We're just glad that they all came back safe," said Scott Brady, of Kirtland.

Brady's son, Spc. Brian R. Brady, served with the unit.

"I'm just happy to be back," Spc. Brady said. "It was a great experience. I learned a lot from my (non-commissioned officers)."

Five more soldiers already had returned to the Farmington area on Dec. 9.

The company left New Mexico in February to serve as part of an international peacekeeping force enforcing the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Of the 84 soldiers in the company, 20 were from San Juan County.

They joined about 400 Guardsmen with 1st Battalion, 200th Infantry Division, which includes units based in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Las Cruces.

The 1/200th was joined in July by 47 soldiers with the Springer-based 615th Combat Support Battalion, which provided medical, aviation, finance, postal and explosive ordnance disposal services.

When they arrived in the Sinai in early September the soldiers encountered protests and escalating unrest.

"What a critical time for us to be there," said Capt.


Jason Peete, the company's commander. "It was an opportunity and a privilege to lead. I've never served with a finer group of men."

Peete thanked the community for its support, and Farmington's Blue Star Mothers for sending care packages during their deployment.

"We're just here to welcome our troops home from Egypt," said Jennie Sanders, of the Blue Star Mothers. "We want to keep the community aware that there's still a war and we'll keep doing this until the last (soldier) comes home.


For Peete, this homecoming ended with a surprise.

After a brief ceremony, he joined his wife, Debra, to greet their oldest daughter Hazee, 11, at Mesa View Middle School, where she is a sixth grader. She wasn't expecting to see her father until the weekend.

The class was studying pronouns when Capt. Peete walked in holding a bouquet.

She turned around and tears welled up in her eyes.

"If you cry I'm going to start crying," he said, as they hugged.

Hazee gathered her things and went home to spend the day with her family.

"I just thought that he's finally home, that I can see him — that it's worth the wait," she said, her eyes still watery.

She wiped her eyes again, on the sleeve of her father's old high school letter jacket, and walked out the door.