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HomeNewsFort Campbell Welcomes Home 53 Soldiers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade

Fort Campbell Welcomes Home 53 Soldiers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade

Returning Soldiers part of the 101st Finance Company

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division101st Sustainment Brigade - LifelinersFort Campbell, KY – Early yesterday morning Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division welcomed home 53 soldiers from the 101st Finance Company part of the 101st Sustainment Brigade after a year long deployment to Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The unit was responsible for handling financial transactions in RC-East and RC-South. “When you talk about the effect of this company it’s pretty staggering. 1.7 Billion dollars this company has either touched or passed back to the Defense Finance and Accounting Services to make sure we are able to pay our financial obligations going forward,” said Col. Michael Peterman the Commander of the 101st Sustainment Brigade.

The returning soldiers of the 101st Finance Company
The returning soldiers of the 101st Finance Company

The unit handled out over 500 million dollars in cash during the course of their deployment, and another 700 million dollars was in electronic transfers back to the Department of the Treasury.

“To put it in perspective, we give some of these young finance soldiers a bag full of money, sometimes in the range of $500,000 to $1,000,000 and put them on a helicopter and fly them out to 84 forward operation bases, where they issue Field Ordering Officer (FOO) Funds and Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) money which are used to take care of the nations financial obligations.” He continued, “Being from Roy Utah there are probably bankers in my home town that have never seen $1,000,000 in cash in one place at one time in their whole career as a banker, and we give these 19 year old men and women $1,000,000 in cash to go out to meet our obligations. It’s pretty staggering when they come back and it balances down to the penny.”

He then spoke about Counterinsurgency and counter-corruption efforts.

As we talk about counterinsurgency, a lot of people talk about money as a weapons system. This company right here has been absolutely at the point of the spear of that, not only making sure that all of the obligations of the maneuver units are met; but also that the American people are getting the value for the money that is out there.

When you talk about counter-corruption efforts, you may not know that there are a number of small counterfeit operations in Afghanistan, We would see this fake money show up in our cash cages. So this company, along with their partners in the Treasury Department, and some other folks went after those who have been trying to counterfeit $100 bills. So when you talk about the economic line of effort making sure that these companies and these American patriots that are out there have done incredible work.

The return was bitter sweet according to Col. Peterman, “This deployment has not come without a cost to this great unit, SGT. James Darrough was killed in November by a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), in Kabul, Afghanistan.”

SGT. James Michael Darrough
SGT. James Michael Darrough
Sergeant James Michael Darrough was a Financial Management Technician assigned to Charlie Detachment, 101st Finance Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. He joined the Army in February 2005 and arrived at Fort Campbell in July 2009.

His awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Meritorious Unit Commendation; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal with service star; Southwest Asia Service Medal with service star; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; United Nations Medal; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal; Kuwait Liberation Medal; Expert Field Medical Badge and Combat Action Badge.

Darrough is survived by his father, Robert Darrough of Charlotte, N.C. and mother, Janelle Darrough of Livingston, Texas. He is also survived by his wife, Isaura Darrough; sons, Justin and Jared Darrough and daughters, Julianna and Jenna Darrough, all of Clarksville, Tenn.

Col. Peterman addressed the tragic cost paid by the families of soldiers killed in action, “Our hearts go out to these gold star families because certainly they are going to bear the pain of this loss to our Nation for some time to come”

The Return

Family and friends of the returning soldiers had gathered together to give their loved ones a proper welcome home.This was an early morning flight, but in spite of that there was an energy and enthusiasm in the air.

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.

Nikki Boyett with a friend waiting on her husband
Nikki Boyett with a friend waiting on her husband
Waiting for the flight to return was  Nikki Boyett who was waiting for her husband Specialist James Boyett to return to her. “Him coming home today is going to be the best day of my life,” she said giving a little squeal of joy. Now that he was coming home, her husband James is looking forward to enjoying a helping of his wifes special Nachos recipe once again.

“It’s been extremely hard with him deployed,” said Nikki. “I am from Alabama and grew up surrounded by friends and family; with this being our first duty station I felt a little isolated, and it has been really rough, but I made it!” She credited the Unit Family Readiness Group (FRG), Skype, and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) with helping her stay in touch with her husband, “The Army Support system for the families has been great, my FRG is emailing me all the time with information about my husband; and we’ve been able to stay in touch on a regular basis with Skype and AIM, it goes directly to my phone. But I haven’t been able to talk to him for the last two days and I am so excited!”

Lianna Sanders and her father James
Lianna Sanders and her father James
2-year-old Lianna Sanders was eagerly waiting with her dad James for mother Sgt. 1st Class Vitalia Sanders to return. For James keeping in touch with over the Internet just isn’t the same, “You can use Skype and talk all you want, but it’s just not the same as being together, gradually you drift apart.”

Another soldier who was waiting with family and friends for their spouse to return home was more critical, the soldier feels that not enough is being done to give dual-army couples enough dwell time together at home. “I came back from deployment, then 90 days later they deployed my spouse. Now they are coming home, and in just a couple of months I will most likely be deploying again. Out of the last 3 years, we have had just 11 months together; it is hard on us, it is even harder on our kids,” the soldier said. They did not feel that it is the fault of the Army, “It’s not the Army, it’s not the institution, it is the people who are in charge. It’s not that they don’t know, it is more so that they just don’t care. I hate to say that but I feel that is the simple truth.”

Whenever possible, the Army tries to give soldiers enrolled in the married army couples program at least 12 months of together time after a married Army couple soldier completes an unaccompanied overseas tour, but this may not always be possible with units on a wartime footing.

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.

Soldiers of the 101st Finance Company march in to the terminal, as their loved ones cheer wildly for them
Soldiers of the 101st Finance Company march in to the terminal, as their loved ones cheer wildly for them
The flight touched down around 3:15am to the cheers of the soldier’s loved ones. After landing the plane taxied to the disembarking point, where the passenger boarding stairs were moved in position. Cheers rose again when the door to the plane opened; and again when the first soldiers appeared in the door. After deplaning as the soldiers walked slowly to the terminal; 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.

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

The soldiers drop off their weapons, then the Ceremony officially begins as 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 which this evening were given by Col. Michael Peterman, the Commander of the 101st Sustainment Brigade. He thanked  the soldiers for the success of their mission in Afghanistan, the families for their sacrifices during the last year.

Col. Michael Peterman, the Commander of the 101st Sustainment Brigade addresses the returning soldiers
Col. Michael Peterman, the Commander of the 101st Sustainment Brigade addresses the returning soldiers

After deployment the last person you want to hear is a long speech from the man or woman welcoming you back, but it is important to thank those who took care of our nation.

On behalf of Eagle 6 and Eagle 7, Major General James C. McConville, and Command Sergeant Major Scott Schroeder and the whole Fort Campbell community we are incredibly proud of what you did for our nation and the Afghan people this year.

Most people don’t understand what the finance company does for our partners in the mountains of Afghanistan. Those of us who were fortunate to work with you and for you understand that 1.7 Billion dollars went through your cages this year and paid our nations debts.

You rucked up and went out to forward locations took care of our friends and gave them money to make sure that we took kept our obligations to not only our Afghan partners but additionally to make a positive effect on the counterinsurgency by paying our debts. There is nothing worse than making obligations to an Afghan partner and then not paying them.

Thank you very much for what you did!

The crowd gave the soldiers a round of applause. Continuing, the Colonel then reminded the soldiers to continue to look out for each other now that they are safe at home once again.

Now you are going to come into transition. You have sacrificed this year together and as we transition out of combat, we have all gone through a lot of things. Remember we have taken care of deployed, we are going to take care of each other here. No one knows more of what you have done than those who are standing in formation with you, and there is a whole bunch of us here to help you as you transition back out to reintegrate with these families to your right and left.

He then addressed the family members.

To the families, thanks for letting us borrow your loved ones for the last year. Our nation is in your debt. We talk about our soldiers and they could not do what they have done for our nation without your great support! From the Lifeliner team and the screaming eagle team we know how important the families are and thank you for what you have done.

We still have Bravo Detachment deployed, we still have about 800 Lifeliners and Screaming Eagles that are out forward on the battlefield. Remember to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Just like we had you in our prayers the whole time you were deployed.

Lastly again welcome home! Job well done!

Air Assault!

The ceremony concludes with the 101st Airborne Division band playing the Division Song and the Army Song as the soldiers and families sing along. Finally, the soldiers are dismissed concluding the ceremony.

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.

Specialist Kent cries tears of joy  as she holds her daughter for the first time in a year
Specialist Kent cries tears of joy as she holds her daughter for the first time in a year

After the visitation time is over the soldiers formed back up, the soldiers marched from the terminal and board buses to go to their unit to turn in weapons and other sensitive items before they are released to be with their families.

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

Col. Peterman speaking with the media before the ceremony
Col. Peterman speaking with the media before the ceremony
Col. Peterman speaking to the media before the ceremony spoke of the stresses and issues these soldiers and their families would be facing after a loved one returns home from the battlefield.

Most of these soldiers particularly in this kind of organization have been deployed multiple times now. Yeah it’s hard as a soldier to know that you are going to leave your kids behind, and that whole year you are gone that your kids will grow up without you. But the hardest part in this deployment really is the families. Because they put their lives on hold waiting for mom or dad to come back, and they have really carried the weight of our country for the last 10 years. When you are a soldier and you are engaged as much as these folks have been, out at the wire, the year goes by pretty quick. In some ways it is a lot easier to be a soldier and focused on the mission, than it is to be family members back home watching the news and hearing the stuff coming out of Afghanistan.

We spend a lot of time before the soldiers come back to the United States both at the chaplaincy and a lot at the leader level talking about reintegration. We spend time talking with the soldiers about how their family’s dynamics have changed over the last year. There is certainly some anxiety on the part of the soldiers, because your family has shifted away from you and they have grown. While you have been gone your family has not stopped; your kids have grown, they have become men or women; the wives or husbands have had to take on those roles you used to have to do in the family unit. So we spend a lot of time with our soldiers when they come back.

Also when we release the soldiers and they leave to turn in their weapons, we have another engagement with the families, because their loved one has changed as well. The soldiers have come up with some hardship, and they have had some pretty good effort this year as they are trying to take care of business; some of it good, some of it kind of hard on them. We spend a lot of effort with the soldiers and their families on getting them to understand these changes and to be ready for them. Not only right now, but and in the next seven days as they continue to reintegrate.

Now that they are home for the next seven day we will focus on reintegration in detail both at the medical and psychological level, as well as working on relationship building and providing life coping skills as the soldiers transition out of combat and back into the family unit.

We are going to do the best we can to give the soldiers and their families all the help we can to make them a whole unit again

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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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