One by one, they alighted from a chartered Boeing 767 Ethiopian Airlines aeroplane to a job-well-done reception by the Deputy Army Commander Maj Gen Albert Kendagor.
Their bright faces reflected a successful peace keeping mission in Darfur, Sudan.
As the plane touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport a few minutes to 3pm on Saturday, they sighed. They were glad to be home.
A Kenya Defence Forces contingent of 75 Military Police personnel returned after completing their tour of duty under the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
For the past 21 months, they have been away from their loved ones. They included 65 male and 15 female officers.
The troops returned home after UNAMID wound up its mandate on December 31, 2020. Then a six-month window was given for troops drawdown and back-loading of Kenyan-owned equipment ending.
“You have been on the mission the longest, did your work with dedication, maintained response and build the name of our country,” Kendagor said.
Maj Jackson Muthee was the troops’ CO. He said despite the challenges the troops faced, they performed their duties with determination and resilience.
They were tasked with enforcing military law and order, conducting investigations, preventing crime. They handled issues arising in the mission area, traffic rules and regulations, VIP escort, protocol duties, customs activities and confinement operation, among others.
“We have done a lot of liaison with other government forces, we have made friends because this is an international environment where the Kenya military police were used to police other contingents.
“We used to police the Ethiopian military, the Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Rwandese, Tanzanian and Egyption so it was a big responsibility that has been bestowed upon us,” Maj Muthee said.
“In all these jobs we have been doing we have observed a lot of integrity, a lot of respect for diversity and observing high levels of professionalism that has seen us serve for all this time,” he added.