Members of the Macon-based 48th Brigade returned from their year-long deployment to Afghanistan in March and April, and now many are getting back to work at their civilian jobs.
For Officer Andrew Clarke, that means patrolling the streets for the Macon Police Department.
Clarke says, "The best part to me, always, is when you get off the plane and smell American air, to me that's the best."
Clarke is getting back into the routine on the police force, after returning from deployment. Now he's ready to carry out his next mission.
He says, "In Afghanistan, as far as policing goes, we were training police officers, and soldiers. So we weren't doing traffic stops and stuff like that, but it's good to be back."
The 27-year-old spent about a year deployed with the 48th Brigade's Delta Company.
He came back to work the first week of June, and says the adjustment hasn't been too tough.
This was Clarke's third deployment. He previously deployed twice with the Marines before joining the National Guard. He joined the Macon Police Department in January 2007, then the National Guard in April that year.
Sergeant Scott Davis, Clarke's precinct supervisor at precinct one, was thrilled knowing he'd have his officer back
Davis says, "I wanted him back on my squad, for sure."
He says Clarke worked with his unit before he deployed, and the two kept in touch often while Clarke was in Afghanistan.
Davis says, "His coming back from Afghanistan this time just compounds his knowledge and what he's doing. A dangerous job, he comes back here to a dangerous job, maybe not on the same scale, but he brings that maturity to the squad."
For Clarke, the experience goes both ways.
He says his 3 years with Macon PD helped his problem solving skills overseas.
"Over in Afghanistan where they are trying to minimize civilian casualties and not everyone you are dealing with is an enemy, it helped out a lot," he says.
Clarke is one of at least three officers back at the Macon Police Department after deployment. The department says it still has about 12 officers on active military leave.
Clarke says his deployment makes him more aware on the street.
"You still carry a weapon everyday, you still have to be professional, you're still putting yourself out there in danger to help other people," he says.
Now, he's helping other people in the place he proudly calls home.
Clarke says he hopes to become a member of the Macon Police SWAT Team, and continue serving in the guard.
The city of Macon will hold an official welcome home parade for the 48th Brigade troops July 30th in downtown Macon.