September 3, 2013 at 1:03 AM
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Monday, family and friends of Sergeant Elise Fournier were able to rest easy knowing that she had returned home safely to West Caldwell. Fournier has been away from home for almost a year now, stationed with the Pennsylvania National Guard in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a Flight Medic. Fournier’s unit, Det. 1 Fox Company 1-169th AVN, first arrived back in the states to an official welcome at the Harrisburg International Airport, PA, on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
"I was based out of Camp Dwyer which was a forty minute helicopter ride south of Kandahar in Helmand Province." Fournier expressed to TAP. "My company was made up of four states - New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Missouri - and each were an individual detachment. My detachment, from Pennsylvania, consisted of twenty people."
Elise Fournier stands center in the dark t-shirt, standing next to her grandmother, brothers and friends Credit: Tom Bradley
West Caldwell Resident
Fournier is a 2007 graduate of James Caldwell High School and she went on to study at Norwich University. Her time spent in town has included volunteering with the West Essex First Aid Squad as an EMT and serving as a firefighter with the West Caldwell Fire Department.
"Our community is proud of Elise and we are grateful that she returned home safely," commented West Caldwell Mayor Joseph Tempesta, Jr. "We owe her many thanks for representing our country in Afghanistan and equally as important we thank her for representing the West Caldwell Fire Department and West Essex First Aid with class and dignity."
Another West Caldwell resident, Private First Class Matt O'Hern who also recently returned from Afghanistan, was on hand to welcome Fournier home and commented, "I am so grateful Elise is back home safe and sound, I'm looking forward to spending some time with her and sharing some stories."
Det. 1 Fox Company 1-169th AVN
Fox Company 1-169th AVN was made up of four National Guard units from four separate states; they mobilized for deployment to Afghanistan in August, 2012. While serving in Kandahar, the unit's mission was to provide medical evacuation support to wounded soldiers in Afghanistan.
"Jigsaw is our call sign," explained Fournier.
The “Jigsaw Family” Credit: Pennsylvania National Guard
West Caldwell’s Tom Bradley, also a First Aid Squad member and West Caldwell firefighter commented about Fournier, “I’m just very glad she is back home with her family and friends.”
Fournier was joined today by her Mom, West Caldwell resident Cecilia Fournier, her grandmother and brothers and a host of area friends.
Friend of the family and Fournier's former soccer coach, Laura McCarthy of West Caldwell commented, “I am so glad she's home and I truly thank her for her service."
Credit: Elise Fournier
West Essex TAP earlier reported a different unit for Fournier; we have corrected the information.