Families welcome home ‘Tropic Lightning’

| June 10, 2011 | 0 Comments
Soldiers from 2nd BCT, 25th ID, form up in front of Gen. Bernard Champoux, commander, 25th ID, along with their families and friends, during their redeployment ceremony at Wheeler Gulch, Wheeler Army Airfield, Tuesday. (Courtesy of 25th ID Public Affairs)

Soldiers from 2nd BCT, 25th ID, form up in front of Gen. Bernard Champoux, commander, 25th ID, along with their families and friends, during their redeployment ceremony at Wheeler Gulch, Wheeler Army Airfield, Tuesday. (Courtesy of 25th ID Public Affairs)

Capt. Hugo E. Flores-Diaz
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Soldiers and family members gathered at Wheeler Gulch, here, to formally welcome home 353 Soldiers during a redeployment ceremony, Tuesday.

Groups of Soldiers in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, started arriving in May, and they will continue coming back throughout the coming weeks.

The brigade achieved several significant accomplishments during its deployment. It completed more than 500 missions and traveled more than 3,000 miles on the roads of northern Iraq.

“You took every one of these challenges and never blinked,” said Col. Malcolm Frost, commander, 2nd BCT, to his Soldiers. “Your efforts over the past year with our joint, interagency and Iraqi partners resulted in staggering progress. You assisted the Iraqis in putting themselves on an irreversible path that will result in a secure, stable, self-reliant and sovereign nation that is an ‘oasis of hope’ for the Middle East.

“Be proud of your accomplishments and service with the ‘Warrior Bde.’ this past year,” he continued. “Let there be no doubt, I am proud of each and every one of you. To count myself among you is a highlight of my career and life. I will cherish our service together in Iraq through all my days, and (I) hope to have the honor and privilege of serving with you again.”

The 2nd BCT also contributed to more than 100 projects within U.S. Division-North, which helped provide water to villages and school supplies to children, as well as better the Iraqis’ overall way of life.

Soldiers from 2nd BCT, 25th ID, prepare to board busses to WAAF, after exiting the airplane that brought them home from their yearlong deployment in Iraq. (Courtesy of 25th ID Public Affairs)

Soldiers from 2nd BCT, 25th ID, prepare to board busses to WAAF, after exiting the airplane that brought them home from their yearlong deployment in Iraq. (Courtesy of 25th ID Public Affairs)

“I think we did a great job,” said Col. Mark Boussy, Stability Transition Team, 2nd BCT. “The whole brigade did a super job; we advised, trained and assisted. … Each unit had specific missions over there, and whatever that mission was, (the unit) seemed to rise to the occasion. We made Iraq a better country in the year we were there.”

“Once the mission was put before them, (Soldiers) were able to get anything accomplished that needed to get done,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Moore, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT.

Every Soldier deployed downrange faces different hardships and challenges, and being away from friends and family is the biggest one, according to Spc. Matthew Sparks, HHC, 2nd BCT.

“I think that challenges are numerous for each and every individual,” he said. “(For some, this was) their first deployment, and it’s hard being away, and (for) others, it’s old hat to them.”

“I think it’s the strength of the family back home and the support groups that really made it successful for everybody,” Boussy said.

During deployments, Soldiers’ spouses and families endure many hardships, while offering unwavering support for their loved ones downrange. Moore’s wife, Gina, said that taking care of the kids was the hardest challenge, but added that she has “been waiting a long year for him to come home.”

The 2nd BCT deployed June 2010 for a yearlong mission to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. The brigade conducted stability operations and security force assistance in Diyala, Salah ad Din and Kirkuk provinces, to support Iraq’s continued development as a sovereign nation and strategic partner in the region.

Pfc. Anthony Stephens, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, said the brigade’s mission was “keeping the area safe (and) showing our presence us much as possible.”

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