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194 Lifeliners returned to Fort Campbell on Thursday

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionFort Campbell, KY – On Thursday in what became the flight that never ended 194 soldiers from 101st Sustainment Brigade “Lifeliners”returned home from a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The soldier’s families had gathered at Campbell Army Airfield  to see their loved ones arrive back home. They were expecting the flight to arrive at 6:25pm, however the aircraft finally touched down at 9:00pm to the enthusiastic cheers from those who were waiting for the flight.

‘Lifeliner’ Commander Col. Michael Peterman is overcome with emotion as the families cheer to welcome his brigade back home.
"Lifeliner" Commander Col. Michael Peterman is overcome with emotion as the families cheer to welcome his brigade back home.

After deplaning as the soldiers walked slowly to the hanger; every soldier’s eyes were focused on the crowd searching for their loved ones, but with the darkness acting as a cloak it wasn’t easy. 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.

When  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.

Soldiers of the 101st Sustainment Brigade at the Welcome Home Ceremony on Thursday
Soldiers of the 101st Sustainment Brigade at the Welcome Home Ceremony on Thursday

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.

Together again
Together again

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 is never a dry eye in the house.

After the visitation time is over the soldiers form back up, the soldiers march from the hanger en masse and board 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 loved ones 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.  during November.

In 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 who returned on this flight. “Talk about making a difference at every level… 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 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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