Fort Campbell, KY – In a flight that arrived at 5:45pm yesterday, 146 Soldiers from two different 101st Division units returned home from Afghanistan. The flight was comprised of 109 members of the 3rd Brigade combat Team (Rakkasans), and 37 members of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (Wings of Destiny).
Family and friends of the returning soldiers had gathered together to give their loved ones a proper welcome home.
We arrived at the hanger shortly after the airplane touched down. The families were already waiting outside for their loved ones to get off the North American flight that brought them home. One little girl starts calling out “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, over and over again as the soldiers begin disembarking from the plane. From the look of concern on her face you could tell she had worried a lot about him during his year long deployment.
The soldiers had a duty to perform before they could be truly reunited. They had to drop off their gear so that it could be secured while they were visiting with their families. Then it was time for the soldiers to march into the hanger before the cheering crowd. After a short ceremony it was time for some quality family time. This was the first time many of these soldiers had seen their loved ones since early 2010.
After a quick invocation by 101st Airborne Division Chaplin Dewey Smith, Maj. Gen. Frank Wiercinski gave a few remarks. “You start getting the feeling that we are coming home when you see one Brigade, but when you see two Brigades, 37 from Wings of Destiny and 109 Rakkasans; you really know that we are starting to come home.” He continued, “For an entire year you defended us…Now it’s our time to take care of you! Let us do that, help us to help you!”
Then the band began to play the Army Song and the 101st Airborne Division Song.
Afterwards, the soldiers were given 15 minutes to be with their families. Two little children run out into to the soldiers looking for that one special soldier who is their daddy. they leap into his arm knocking him over. Their mom follows with the youngest son. The older girl crying tears of joy, her daddy is home. “Do I get mine now?” asked his wife. “I haven’t seen you or your daddy in a year” said a female soldier to her young son. It’s an amazing thing to watch as hard faces soften, and smiles break out, as the soldiers are reunited with their families.
If you are interested in attending a Welcome Home Ceremony, flights are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday, Montday, and Wednesday. Plan to arrive at least 2 hours early. Enter at Gate 7, and follow the signs. Hope to see you there!
Approximately 925 Fort Campbell Soldiers are scheduled to return from Afghanistan this week. With the entire 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) expected home by the end of June.