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187 Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team returned home on Super Bowl Sunday

Fort Campbell, KY – In a flight arriving on Super Bowl Sunday, 189 members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team returned home. They had been on deployment to the Khowst Province of Afghanistan for the last year.

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

Mike O’Malley President of Wendy’s of Bowling Green, which owns the Wendy’s in Clarksville and Oak Grove, was on hand representing AUSA. AUSA members attend each of the Welcome Home Ceremonies and provide soldier’s families with food and drinks while they wait for their loved ones.

It was a day that most of America had their mind on the upcoming game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. One of the ground crewmen waited for the plane to arrive wearing a Green Bay Packers Jersey.

A ground crewman wears a Green Bay Packers jersey as he waits for the plane to arrive.
A ground crewman wears a Green Bay Packers jersey as he waits for the plane to arrive.

At 2:48pm 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.

An invocation was given by Chaplin Dewey Smith, followed by comments from Commanding Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Frank Wiercinski. “We’ve got Steelers fans, we’ve got Packers fans. We don’t need any Super Bowl, we have got a super bowl right here. Welcome home Rakkasans.” he continued “But we will get you out in time to see the Super Bowl”

The 101st Airborne Division Army Band played the Army song and the 101st Song, with many of the soldiers singing along.

After the short ceremony it was time for some quality family time.

Army wife Amy Undergraft was waiting to introduce a brand new baby girl “Winn” to her husband Jamie.  Winn was born 4 weeks ago while her husband was still on deployment in Afghanistan, and he had not had the chance to meet her yet in person

Amy Undergraft introduces Winn to Jamie
Amy Undergraft introduces Winn to Jamie

They have two sons Jamison and Caden, and on a somewhat humorous note, a daughter named Payton Raye who was born 3 years ago during her fathers last deployment. Jamie’s wife had told him if the Colts won the Super Bowl, he could name her after Colts Quarterback Payton Manning, and of course the Colts won.

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 tumult 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 Wednesday, Friday, Monday, and Thursday. 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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