Cold rainy weather can’t dampen the spirits of returning Soldiers and their Families
Fort Campbell, KY – On a cold rainy day 49 soldiers from three separate units returned to Fort Campbell after a 9 month deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The returning soldiers included 24 from the 372nd Inland Cargo Transport Company, 9 from the 305th Quartermaster Company, and 16 from the 212th Combat Stress Control Medical Detachment.
Family and friends of the returning soldiers had gathered together to give their loved ones a proper welcome home.
When the announcement was made that the flight was 15 minutes out the family members started getting themselves weather ready. Normally when the family members are allowed to head outdoors it’s a mad dash to get outside so they can claim the best spots, but due to the rain most of the family members waited inside until the plane had actually touched down.
Around 3:23pm the plane touched and the family members streamed outside to see their loved ones get off the plane. After deplaning as the soldiers walked briskly to the hanger, every eye 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.
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.
Unlike most previous flights, due to the steady rain the soldiers were allowed to proceed directly into the hanger where they dropped off their gear in a area specially cordoned off for it. They then formed up until called forward for he ceremony with the crowd cheering wildly for them.
There is a brief ceremony consisting of a short prayer of thanks for their return, followed by short remarks from Brig. Gen. Jeffery N. Colt, the Deputy Commander of the 101st Airborne Division.
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.
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.
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.