RAEFORD, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Nearly 240 National Guardsmen returned to the National Guard Armory in Raeford on Tuesday after spending weeks in Puerto Rico. The Caribbean island was left in ruins with no electricity, running water or food.
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"The people were very happy and excited to see soldiers from the National Guard," said Sgt. Salvador Moreno.
He was able to use his native Spanish to help translate the needs of the people to his unit. Moreno called it a useful tool on every mission.
"I was able to translate and coordinate with my higher ups the need from the distribution center and the places we were going to and further assist everybody in the team what the mission was going to be like that day," Moreno said.
Every day, the soldiers cleared debris from roads, completed road repairs, assessed infrastructure damage in addition to distributing food and water. They traveled more than 20,000 miles. For Moreno, seeing the children on the island made him emotional.
"They are very resilient as kids. I don't think they realize the full impact of the situation," he said.
The National Guard Armory filled with families waiting for their soldiers to come home. The Singletary family was among those waiting.
"My wife doesn't like for us to eat fast food," said Sgt. Maj. Derrick Singletary. "My babies love McDonald's Happy Meals and I said 'we're going to get a Happy Meal.' "
It's a celebration for this family and the many others who have waited for their soldiers to come home.
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NC National Guardsmen return home from Puerto Rico