Tears dry as Guardsmen touch down at SFO

There were never enough of the heart-wrenching phone calls — the harsh, popping sounds of heavy artillery behind the voices of their sons and daughters at war.

“It’s hard to get any sleep,” said Cindy Sill, the Mill Valley mother of a U.S. soldier. “Last night, I couldn’t sleep at all.”

Today, she can rest. The teary-eyed mom and her family welcomed home her only son, Spc. Weston Sill, 22, and Staff Sgt. Caliph Fells, 30, of San Francisco on Friday afternoon at San Francisco International Airport.

The National Guardsmen, unscathed but intensely exhausted from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, had few words for their loved ones — but plenty of hugs.

“It’s been hard. I worried about him every day,” sister Jessica Sill said. “There were a few e-mails and some texting, but it was never enough.”

All in all, 35 soldiers from the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion returned to their homes Friday across California, military officials said.

Fells, who lived in an apartment on Nob Hill before he was deployed, said his lease has run out and his first priority will be finding a new home. But before the apartment hunt, Fells said, he plans to meet friends for dinner at Roy’s Restaurant in SoMa. He said he was also looking forward to seeing his father, who lives in Vallejo.

“I feel happy, I feel relieved,” he said.

The men were headquartered in Kabul and sent to gather and translate intelligence from various battlefields, according to Lt. Col. Graham Clark.

“At this point, they just need time to adjust to being home and back with their families,” he said.

Clark said the returning soldiers received some initial counseling in Texas last week for possible post-traumatic stress symptoms.

“We also met with their families last month to talk about the various services they may need and the various counseling and clinics the Army provides,” Clark said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101 through The City including Park Presidio Boulevard to help keep transit flowing as traffic increases. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents fill up a new safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

Demonstrators commemorated the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside S.F. City Hall on June 1, 2020.<ins></ins>
Chauvin verdict: SF reacts after jury finds ex-officer guilty on all charges

San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police… Continue reading

San Francisco Unified School District Board member Faauuga Moliga, right, pictured with Superintendent Vincent Matthews on the first day back to classrooms, will be board vice president for the remander of the 2121 term. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faauuga Moliga named as school board vice president to replace Alison Collins

The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga… Continue reading

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

Most Read