'Welcome home Viper Medics'
October 21, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany - Sherry Schwab's T-shirt screamed the message her voice forgot as her husband and 78 other Soldiers marched into the Wiesbaden Fitness Center Oct. 12.
"Welcome home, Viper Medics."
Schwab and her 3-year-old son fidgeted on the bleachers posing a sign that read "Welcome Home Daddy" as they anxiously awaited the arrival of the 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment.
After 12 months in Iraq dedicating time to an intricate mission of standardizing health care in U.S. military medical and dental clinics and working with Iraqi ground forces to establish an Iraqi Heroes Clinic, the mission was done and the Soldiers were home.
"They performed their mission beyond my expectations," said Lt. Col. Noel Cardenas, commander of the 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion.
Responsible for 1,000 Soldiers sprawled out over 20 separate forward and contingency operating bases, Cardenas called the unit's mission "complex."
"It was a lot of hours, but I'm extremely proud to be associated with this group and the 25 other units," he said.
Ending his remarks, Cardenas said, "Job well done. It's time to be reunited with your families."
As the unit was called to attention and then dismissed, a flood of families erupted from the bleachers.
Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Schwab hurried to embrace his wife, and then he looked around surprised to see every one of his neighbors smiling at him.
The only thing Schwab had asked for at his homecoming was a meal of hamburgers, French fries and real mayonnaise. But in addition to special-made T-shirts and a fully decorated house with welcome home banners easily visible from the street, Sherry had a crowd of neighbors who during the one-year deployment became an important part of the Schwab family.
Just as Schwab was about to deploy, his wife Sherry was in the United States unable to return to see her husband off.
"They saw him off when he left," Sherry said referring to her neighbors who pulled together at the time of Schwab's deployment to see him off. And on Oct. 12 they were there again, to bid him farewell.
"I didn't expect everyone to be here," Schwab said as he held his son.
"We were only here (in Wiesbaden) two months before I left. It's great of course. Unexpected. I guess you could say it's just unexpected."