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200 soldiers return home from Afghanistan

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionFort Campbell, KY – Yesterday afternoon, Fort Campbell welcomed home 200 soldiers from the 584th Ordnance Maintenance Company along with part of 101st Special Troops Battalion “Sustainers”. They were returning home from a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where their mission was to provide field maintenance within Regional Command-East as part of the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

The 584th Ordnance Maintenance Companymade headlines during their deployment for use of the Joint Recovery And Distribution System (JRADS) to recover a downed Apache helicopter; they had previously conducted missions to recover a bulldozer, a wrecker, and a mine resistance ambush protected vehicle. They also helped to set up a support center for host nation truck drivers in the Convoy Staging Yard at Bagram Airfield, as well as took part in humanitarian assistance missions.

A soldier reunited with his family
A soldier reunited with his family

Families had gathered at Campbell Army Airfield to see their loved ones arrive back home. The aircraft touched down at 4:41pm to the enthusiastic cheers from those who were waiting for the flight. After deplaning as the soldiers walked slowly to the hanger; every soldier’s eyes were focused on the crowd searching for their loved ones. The crowd was doing the same, and as those in the crowd spotted their soldier, they shouted out his or her name to attract their attention.

Soldiers waving to their Families
Soldiers waving to their Families

After all the soldiers had passed, the families returned into the hanger to take part in the short ceremony that was all that stood between them and their loved ones.

The Ceremony begins with the opening of the hanger door. The soldiers march into the facility as those in the crowd cheer wildly for them. There is a brief ceremony consisting of a short prayer of thanks for their return, followed by remarks from Maj. Gen. James McConville, Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division; who when possible personally welcomes the returning soldiers back home.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Soldiers are given 20 minutes of family time which enables them to begin the reunification process with their families.

A soldier reunited with his infant son
A soldier reunited with his infant son

It’s quite a sight to see as these brave warriors rock hard demeanor melt when they hold their children, and kiss their mothers, wives, or girlfriends for the first time in a year. Believe me, there was not a dry eye in the house.

But perhaps the most poignant moment of this particular welcome home ceremony was the words that two soldiers had for each other when they left their families to form up to go turn in their gear, one soldier clapped the other on the shoulder and said “We’re home, we’re really home.”

After they are back in formation, the soldiers marched from the hanger and boarded buses to go to their unit to turn in weapons and other sensitive items.

The soldier’s families are then given a short brief on reintegration issues, and then returned to their vehicles. to go pick up their soldiers once their turn-in was complete.

This unit is the vanguard for the return of the 101st Sustainment Brigade, which will continue to return to Fort Campbell, KY. throughout November.  During their current deployment, The 101st Sustainment brigade was responsible for supporting 13 combat brigades across northern and eastern Afghanistan by providing logistical support in the form of ground convoys, air transport and aerial delivery.

“This deployment, in all its measurements, was done exceptionally well,” said ‘Lifeliner’ commander Col. Michael Peterman, recently. “Talk about making a difference at every level.”

Peterman also said that the 101st Sustainment Brigade is the “Gold standard of an Army logistics formation.”

Soldiers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade have been deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom every day since the inception of the Global War on Terrorism.

If you wish to attend a Welcome Home Ceremony, check the flight schedules online, as times are subject to change at anytime. When arriving to Fort Campbell, enter via Gate 7; if you don’t have installation stickers on your vehicle, you will be required to get a visitor pass. From there just follow the signs to the ceremony parking. Waiting buses transport family members safely to the hanger.

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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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