541st Sapper Co. returns from deployment
December 11, 2013
BAMBERG, Germany (Dec. 10, 2013) -- The smell of fresh popcorn lingered in the Freedom Fitness Facility's foyer. The Harlem Globetrotters had just finished their show when the gym slowly started to fill up again.
Families and friends gathered late in the evening Saturday Dec. 7 to welcome home 63 Soldiers of the 541st Sapper Company from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. The returning Soldiers' mission was to clear roads from improvised explosive devices and mines in the Helmand region, a volatile area, according to unit officials.
The gym became quiet, and the curtain that separated the court slowly lifted. AC/DC's song "Thunderstruck" and a cheering crowd broke the silence, and the company marched forward in formation, led by company commander, Capt .Justin McMillan.
Col. Thomas Austin, battalion commander of the 54th Engineer Battalion, welcomed the company, and, after his short remarks, exactly 217 seconds later, the Soldiers were released.
"It's simply great to be back," said Spc. Mitchell Blackburn.
His wife, Amber, was just happy to hug her husband after nine months. Their son, Kaden, missed his father a lot, said Amber Blackburn. Every night, he went to bed with his daddy-doll, and every time he saw a plane in the sky, he would ask if his daddy was finally coming home.
After half an hour, the gym was empty again. The returning Soldiers left with their friends and Families. The first night belongs only to them, but they were expected in to work the following morning.
The redeployment of the 541st Sapper Company is also historic. It's the last unit stationed in Bamberg to return from deployment. No other units are deployed or will deploy from U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg. The garrison is scheduled to close by fall 2014.