18th CSSB returns home after 15 months in Iraq
September 15, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Families held banners, clutched balloons, waved and cheered wildly as they caught the first glimpse of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion step through the door at the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Field House Aug. 29.
The Soldiers of 18th CSSB were welcomed during a re-deployment ceremony after completing one of the last 15-month deployments to Iraq.
During the company's mission to provide command and control over 700 National Guard, reserve and active duty Soldiers who provided combat service support to more than 15,000 Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in northern Iraq, none of the 77 personnel deployed were lost or injured
While waiting for their Soldiers to arrive back at Grafenwoehr, family members chatted and fidgeted with excitement.
Theresa Roscoe said that being involved in one of the last 15-month deployments was hard on the Soldiers because they were seeing units arrive in Iraq after them and seeing them leave before them. "But through it all," she said, "from what I've heard, they did a great job, and I think it's because they have good family support back here and community support."
Amelia Lavariega Martinez, who awaited the return of her husband, said this was their second deployment.
"The communication has been the big difference," she said, comparing it to his previous deployment.
"When I felt like I needed him, he was there. I knew at 8o'clock he was going to call - instead of 'maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week,'" Martinez said.
"I'm really excited," she said. "I haven't slept in about a week ... It's been a lot of anxiety," saying she had cleaned, baked a cake, washed all her husbands' clothes and even bought a new dress for the occasion.
While work and children kept Gloria Valtrip busy at home, she said the unit really kept the families in "the loop about what was going on downrange.
"They gave us newsletters which I thought was awesome," Valtrip said and added that the newsletters included what the Soldiers were doing and many photos.
While Valtrip's youngest daughter, Patience, 20 months, was too young to understand the occasion, older daughter Uriah, 12, who had been through a deployment before said, "I'm nervous. I plan to be the first kid to go run for my dad."
When Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar, commanding general of the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command released the Soldiers and families at the conclusion of the ceremony, they raced to each other to embrace.
After hugging and kissing his wife, Jodie and three children, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Byrd concluded, "It's just good to finally be home."
Photos from the re-deployment ceremony and 18th CSSB's re-integration can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/usaggrafenwoehr/sets.