Family, friends welcome home Guard unit
Members trained army, police during 1-year deployment
GLOVERSVILLE After nearly a year in Afghanistan, Spc. Adam Kutinsky was certainly anxious to see his family.
But the Sharon Springs soldier had something else on his mind when he and his comrades from 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry of the New York National Guard stepped down from their buses Thursday morning at the Gloversville Armory.
Kutinsky, who was about to transfer to the State University of New York at Oneonta when his unit was called up last summer, was dreaming about an order of chicken parmigiana from the Pizza Shack in Cobleskill.
His mother, Dyana Kutinsky, confirmed the Pizza Shack stop has been on the agenda for some time.
“I think he’s tired of MREs,” she said. Dyana Kutinsky, joined by her husband, Stanley, were among the throng of friends, family and veterans waiting Thursday in front of the armory. Contingents of the 108th departed Fort Dix on Thursday morning bound for four upstate installations, including Gloversville.
About 45 soldiers on two buses arrived in Gloversville in late morning.
After Kutinsky told his mother he grew a mustache, she said she couldn’t wait to see “what he looks like.” In his last conversation from Afghanistan, Dyana Kutinsky said, her son told her “I just want to get home and forget.”
Adam Kutinsky, who holds a criminal justice degree from Herkimer County Community College, said he will take some time to unwind and may be ready by spring to consider re-enrolling at Oneonta. He said he may be interested in ROTC and becoming an officer.
Spc. Douglas Norton, of Gloversville, was greeted by a large family contingent that included his wife, Jamie, his children and his mother-in-law, Francine Kenyon.
Norton declared his tour of duty “quite exciting,” and said while he is glad to get home, his enlistment in the Guard gave him an opportunity to travel to countries and places he would never have seen.
“The important part,” said Kenyon, “is they’re coming home and they’re all safe.”
In civilian life, Norton is a maintenance technician at KeyMark, the window manufacturer in Fonda. He said he plans to return to that job.
Spc. John Ferrara, of Fort Plain, also plans to return to his job at Wal-Mart. But first, he said, he wants to sleep and he plans to enjoy his wife Holly’s cooking.
“It feels great,” said the 26-year-old Ferrara of getting home. The couple’s daughter, Dallys, was the center of attention as she waited on the sidewalk at the armory, a flag in her tiny hand.
Asked what he missed about home in the Mohawk Valley, Ferrara said, “Rain. … I missed the rain.”
Rain was rare in the Kandahar region where his unit was assigned to training and mentoring units of the Afghan National Army and National Police.
“He was happy that he went, and he’s happy that it’s over,” Holly Ferrara said.
Ferrara was greeted by a large contingent of family including his parents, Cathy and Jim Wallace, and his aunt and uncle, Michele and Dan West.
Cathy Wallace said her son fully supported the mission in Afghanistan. “He believes they’re doing what they need to do,” she said. Of the Afghans, he told his uncle, “They’re just people, like us.”
After his soldiers met their families, Lt. John Klimes stood them in formation one last time and then dismissed them to resume civilian life.
The Clifton Park officer’s wife, Kim, and a group of family members including his father-in-law, Tom Koscielniak of Saratoga Springs, held up a large banner as the buses arrived. It said, “Welcome Home John . . . We’re So Proud of You.”
The Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group, held flags and stood at attention along the sidewalk as the soldiers entered the armory.
Members of the local chapters of the VFW and American Legion greeted the new veterans and distributed flags and literature.
Sgt. Corine Lombardo, a National Guard spokeswoman, said the unit did not suffer any casualties on its tour of duty. She said the unit is not expected to be deployed back to the war zone for several years but individual members may volunteer sooner than that.