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Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team received a snowy Welcome Home, Monday

Fort Campbell, KY – In a flight that arrived on a snowy Monday afternoon 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.

The returning soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team form up in the snow for their grand entry during the Welcome Home Ceremony.
The returning soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team form up in the snow for their grand entry during the Welcome Home Ceremony.

Winter had returned to Clarksville with a vengeance dumping several inches of snow that was still heavily falling as the plane arrived. Aviation support soldiers spread a tarp out on the snowy ground to allow the soldiers to drop off their gear without it getting soaked.

It was bitterly cold outside so family and friends huddled together as they waited out in the falling snow. When the airplane touched down at 1:00pm, You could hear the sound of the engines but the plane was lost behind a blanket of whiteness. The families cheered loudly, and louder still as the plane emerged from the whiteout.  The assembled media tried vainly to capture the soldiers disembarking from the aircraft, but with the snow blowing right in the lenses the end results were generally poor at best.

Snowy white hair
Snowy white hair

The families did not remain outdoors any longer than they had to in order to see their loved one pass by. As they returned inside, one mothers hair had gone white from the snow that had covered it during her brief stint outdoors.

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 go spend some time 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. 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.

A young girl takes a photo of her mom and dad after they were reunited at the Welcome Home Ceremony
A young girl takes a photo of her mom and dad after they were reunited at the Welcome Home Ceremony

Moments pass by as I move through the crowd. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team Commander Col Viet Luong watching his troops being reunited with their families. Maj. Gen. Frank Wiercinski making his way carefully through the crowd greeting soldiers as he passes by. A young girl dressed in tiny fatigues taking a photo of her mother and father together again. A soldier and his infant son staring into each others eyes, with a big smile on the dads face. A soldier and his young daughter cheek to cheek. A soldier wearing a colorful lei made up of candy and tiny bottles of liquor.

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 Friday, Monday, Tuesday, 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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