"You say 'goodbye,' and I say 'hello'"
June 25, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - "You say 'goodbye,' and I say 'hello.'"
One might say that the events in Kieshnick Physical Fitness Center here, June 23, was reminiscent of the famous words from the Beatles' song.
Soldiers of 5th platoon, 502nd Adjutant General, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), deployed to Iraq in the morning as 602nd Maintenance Company, 49th Transportation Battalion, 15th SB, returned from Iraq in the afternoon.
Col. Larry Phelps, 15th SB commander, reminded the smaller group of deploying Soldiers that they had a proud tradition of 233 years of Soldiers going to war to live up to.
"We're proud of you," he told them.
The 502nd Soldiers will operate post offices in Mosul, Q-West, and Sykes.
"The postal mission is a morale multiplier," 2nd Lt. Antwone Wilson, 5th plt, 502nd AG said.
"It could be a letter [or] baked cookies ... it's a piece of home from thousands of miles away."
He noted that his small group of Soldiers was capable of servicing the postal needs of up to 12,000 Soldiers.
Lois West drove from her home in Pearland, Texas, to bid farewell to her daughter, Sgt. 1st Class LaWanda Daniels, 5th platoon's platoon sergeant.
"Being a mom it's kind of sad ... but she should go. That's her duty," West said.
Before the group left for the airfield, Phelps had one last thing to add.
"Here's your final counseling - take care of each other."
Only three hours later the scene was somewhat different as a big red pickup truck with large American and ordnance branch flags posted in the bed led a procession of white busses containing returning Soldiers to the gym.
After a short wait, the crowd of awaiting families and friends erupted into applause and cheering as their Soldiers ran into the gym through a cloud of smoke.
"It's been long overdue," said Reba Moore, wife of Master Sgt. Eric Moore, 602nd Maintenance Company's maintenance control sergeant.
Her husband agreed.
"I'm glad to be back," he said.
Other members of Moore's family, including his new grandson, whom he had only seen once before during a video conference call, were there.
When asked what the first thing he was going to do was, he replied that he wanted to go sit with his grandkids.
Sgt. 1st Class Yolanda Brown, 602nd's first sergeant, explained the unit's mission in Iraq.
"We're one of the largest non-divisional support shops on Fort Hood," she said.
The company repaired equipment on the third shop level. In other words, if no one else could fix a piece of equipment, it went to them.
The Soldiers of the 602nd fixed computers, scales, multi meters, generators, starters, night vision goggles, GPS systems, and weapons during their deployment.
"Every kind of maintenance you can name my unit is a three shop for," Brown said proudly.
But what was her unit's greatest accomplishment'
"The biggest success ... is a successful redeployment."