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Men and Women of the Leader Rakkasans welcomed home in midmorning ceremony on Saturday

Fort Campbell, KY – The return of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from the Khowst Province of Afghanistan continued Saturday morning with the arrival of 157 “Leader Rakkasans” part of the the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment.

Family and friends of the returning soldiers had gathered together to give their loved ones a proper welcome home.

We have been fortunate to follow many of the 3rd Brigade Soldiers during the deployment through the efforts of their units Public Affairs Officers. These military journalists are often unsung heroes who do their best to tell the story of their units activities, whether at home, or under fire in the combat zone. They were a part of the unit returning home.

A very emotional Deb Turbeville along with her husband Rusty from Darlington South Carolina was the first on hand. Her son Spc. James Turbeville was due in on the flight that day, and she just couldn’t wait for the flight to arrive. So They arrived just before 7:00am for the 10:50am flight. “His deployment has really brought home to us the meaning of what America really is,” said Deb. Her husband Rusty added “These boys go over to do a job, they do a real good job, and we are so proud of them. We can’t say enough good about what they do, and the Army.”

Deb Turbeville watches as Rusty welcomes his son James back home
Deb Turbeville watches as Rusty welcomes his son James back home

Deb and Rusty towed a brand new Jeep all the way from South Carolina to Clarksville, TN as as a welcome home present for their son.

Thom Shepherd playing for the soldier's families
Thom Shepherd playing for the soldier's families

Singer/songwriter Thom Shepherd from Nashville, Tennessee was on hand to perform for the troops.While the 101st Division Army band is amazing, it was nice to have the struming of Thom’s guitar along with his soft southern twang. He is bed known for his song “Riding with Private Malone”

“As songwriters, we have no idea how our songs are going to affect people.” he said. “I met a soldier in Qatar who was on leave from Baghdad, and he told me he joined the military because of Private Malone. He asked me how that made me feel, and I said Responsible!” Thom feels a great attachment to the military, with many of his songs carrying a patriotic flair.

“Thank you to all of the people at Fort Campbell for the support of the troops coming home today from Afghanistan. It was a real honor to be a part of it and play some songs for everybody. I look forward to doing it again very soon. Mainly I want to say thank you to the troops of Fort Campbell for doing what you do, and for serving your country doing the job that the rest of us sometimes don’t want to do. You all take care of it, and do it with pride. It’s a real honor to be in Clarksville, TN today singing some songs for you all!”

Jumping for joy because her daddy is almost home
Jumping for joy because her daddy is almost home

When it was announced that it was almost time for the plane to arrive, one little girl leaped into the air for joy. The family members hurried outside. While the weather was warmer than it had been at recent Welcome Home Ceremonies, the air still held a touch of winters chill.

At 10:53am the plane touched down to a chorus of cheers.The soldiers rapidly disembarked from the aircraft and proceeded to march to a assembly point near the hangers to drop off their gear so they could visit with their families. Then the soldiers then marched into the hanger before the cheering crowd. After a short ceremony it was time for some quality family time.

A soldier is lost in the eyes of his baby girl
A soldier is lost in the eyes of his baby girl

This was the first time many of these soldiers had seen their loved ones since early 2010, and it showed. How families reacted to their reunion differed wildly. Some kissed, while others stood in the middle of the turmult lost in each others company. Some posed for pictures. For the family men it was the beginning of the process of sharing the stories gathered during the lost year of their lives.

When the 15 minutes was over the soldiers were formed back up. It was time for the soldiers to march out to the buses, as the families were given a last minute briefing on potential issues that may arise and how to best to handle them.

If you are interested in attending a Welcome Home Ceremony. Flights are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Plan to arrive at least 2 hours early. Enter at Gate 7, and follow the signs. Hope to see you there!

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Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
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