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The 159th Combat Aviation Brigade begins to return home

 

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionFort Campbell, KY – Yesterday Fort Campbell welcomed 195 soldiers from the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade home from Afghanistan. The Brigade is the last major element of the 101st Airborne Division still deployed in Afghanistan.

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

A wife is overcome with emotion as she watches her soldier march by

A wife is overcome with emotion as she watches her soldier march by

15 minutes before the flight arrived the family members were allowed to proceed outdoors to wait on for a chance to see the flight bearing their loved ones arrive.

In addition to the local media, a news crew from CNN was on hand to follow the stories of two of the returning soldiers, CWO Collis and Captain Cai. These two soldiers were selected by the Brigade and Division to represent all of the returning soldiers to the national media.

Chief Warrant Officer Collis (left) and Captain Cai (Center)

Chief Warrant Officer Collis (left) and Captain Cai (Center)

Maj. Gen. McConville and an Aide walk out to meet the returning flight

Maj. Gen. McConville and an Aide walk out to meet the returning flight

The flight touched down at 2:30pm to the cheers of the soldiers loved ones. After deplaning as the soldiers walked slowly to the hangar; 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. Along the way some of the soldiers stopped to shake hands with or embrace a wounded warrior who was on hand to see his brothers in arms return home.

When  the soldiers had passed, the families returned into the hangar 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, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division; who when possible personally welcomes the returning soldiers back home.

The returning soldiers

The returning soldiers

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.

This was the second flight of soldiers from the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade to return home. The 3000 soldiers of the Brigade should be completely home in the next few months.

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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