Units' return makes holiday extra special
November 14, 2008
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Veterans Day weekend had a more special meaning for the loved ones involved Nov. 7 at Sheridan Sports and Fitness Center as about 140 Soldiers from 514th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance) and 547th Medical Company (Area Support) returned home.
"Thank you so very much for your personal and professional sacrifices," Col. (P) Heidi Brown, deputy commanding general for sustainment said as she honored the Soldiers and their families for their commitment during the brief welcoming ceremony.
"Fort Lewis is doing a great job out there taking care of our troops and our country," John Frijas said as he awaited the return of his daughter Aja from her first deployment.
Frijas retired from the Army after 26 years and has three children serving in the military. He came with his son, Jason, who also recently completed a tour overseas.
"When somebody is first deployed they get excited with everything that's going on over there," Frijas said.
Frijas has another son currently in Iraq. He discussed what it was like having his children deployed.
"I've been around so I'm used to it," he said. "For them it's different but they got used to it, too."
Frijas still lives near Fort Lewis because he said he likes it up here.
"This is a great place, and it's also a great place to raise a kid," he said. "The reason I came back here to retire was because I had been here before and I liked it."
He still makes his way on post because he said that the quality of the facilities and services couldn't be beat.
Jamie Trask also had somebody special coming home as she and her two children, Savannah Lynn, 1, and Cameron, 2, prepared to reunite with Eric.
"The family readiness groups have helped out a lot to keep me informed," she said.
The Trask family just completed its second deployment, and Jamie said she's been equipped with an arsenal of things to do on post as she took care of the children.
"It's nice to have everything convenient and close together," she said. "I can take them out to the back yard and they can have the best times of their lives."
Trask also mentioned the close proximity of everything on post, such as the park behind their house and the community center and child care center down the street.
"I think it's great that you have things for the kids to do to get their mind off missing daddy and also to get them out of the house being active."
Mitchell Goodrum watched his daughter, Leanna, leave the house and immediately join the Army to help fulfill a mission dear to her heart.
"She joined the Army to be a mental health specialist, strictly to go over and help Soldiers that were having issues," Goodrum said.
He said Leanna communicated a few times to ease his concerns about being away, but would always reaffirm her determination to stay Army.
"She wants to stay Army and go back," he said, "but I guess the Army has rules that say you have to come back for a little while and rest."
The 514th Ground Ambulance Co. and 547th Area Support Co. both completed a 15-month tour and served under Task Force 62 in Iraq.
While deployed, the 547th treated more than 72,000 patients, providing more than $12 million in medical care to coalition soldiers and civilians, ranging from routine immunizations to X-rays and lab work, to emergency medical support and coordinating air evacuations for critically ill and injured patients.
The 514th conducted more than 4,000 missions, transporting more than 7,000 patients to medical care facilities for treatment. Thirteen Soldiers assigned to the company received the Combat Action Badge and two received Army Commendation Medals with "V" devices for valor.
Spc. Aaron Carpenter is assigned to I Corps Public Affairs. This story appeared in Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.