Just after 7 p.m. Wednesday night, dozens of Shanique Sheriffe’s family, friends, and fellow island veterans held a surprise party at the Legion Hall to celebrate Sheriffe’s return from an 11-month deployment to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.
“I didn’t sense it until maybe an hour before,” Sheriffe said. “When we pulled up to the Legion that is when I was like ‘oh so this is where we are going.”
Sheriffe left for Saudi Arabia in May of 2022, which is where she spent most of her deployment. She is an E-4 specialist in the Massachusetts National Guard 1-182 Infantry Battalion. Sheriffe’s primary responsibilities included training the local army and interacting with locals.
She said the emotions upon seeing so many close family and friends after nearly one year apart were overwhelming.
“It felt surreal,” she said. “It has been a long time since I was away from them. I cried.”
Sheriffe moved to the island 11 years ago from Jamaica. She has worked at Cumberland Farms and also has a job working for Dr. Michael Miner, a local dentist whose dentistry is located on Amelia Drive. She has embraced the island and will return to her jobs now that she has returned. She said seeing so many veterans at the party to welcome her back meant a lot.
“I wasn’t expecting anything to be honest and so it was really cool to have (the veterans) there because some of them have had this experience,” Sheriffe said. “So they know how it feels to leave and then to come back to your family.”