Originally created 09/21/03

105 Guard members return from Guantanamo Bay



COLUMBIA, S.C.-- Members of a South Carolina guard unit deployed last year to oversee terrorist suspects at a U.S. detention center in Cuba have returned home almost a year later.

On Saturday, 105 members from the 132nd Military Police Company returned after being deployed in October to provide security to prisoners being held for interrogation at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Many were captured during the war against al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

Cheers arose and flags waved as three buses of Guard members drove into the armory from Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

"Words can't express how I feel to be home," said Sgt. Frankie Neeley, a West Columbia police officer, as his children hugged him. "I'm glad to serve my country, but I really, really missed my family."

The unit was trained not to fraternize with the prisoners - about 680 from 40 different countries.

"These are the baddest of the bad," said Capt. Brian Pitts, the 32-year-old commander of the 132nd. "We were dealing with adversaries of our country people who hate the United States. And the guys did a remarkable job providing security."