WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD - When Amber Murphy paid $11 to the 45th Sustainment Brigade Family Readiness Group for the chance to win the "First Kiss" raffle, she didn\'t expect her name to be drawn from the hundreds of entries.

She had one simple reaction when she was picked to be the first spouse to kiss her Soldier at the 45th Sust. Bde. Redeployment ceremony, Dec. 9, at the Multiple Deployment Facility (MDF), here.

"I cried," Murphy said.

More than 150 Soldiers of the 45th Sust. Bde. returned to Schofield Barracks to friends, family and loved ones from a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan. The remaining 150 are scheduled to return early next year.

Murphy says her 12-year-old son, Timothy, and her family got her through their first deployment. She kept her husband's morale high by mailing him a weekly care package.

"Every Thursday he went to the post office and picked up a care package," she said. "He got a lot of cookies, brownies, muffins, a lot of DVDs - Blockbuster knows me by my first name!"

More than 300 family members, comrades and loved ones packed the MDF and screamed with joy as the Soldiers marched in to the theme song from the movie classic "Rocky." Following remarks from 8th Theater Sustainment Command deputy commanding officer, Col. Steven Pate, Spc. James Murphy was called to the front of the formation to take part in the "First Kiss" ceremony.

Amber rushed out to embrace her husband, planting a long-awaited kiss on her Soldier.

"It was awesome," he says. "I wasn't really expecting it and it was very special."

Staff Sgt. John David Hilty, 45th Sust. Bde. Support Operations, and a native of Bowie, Md., held his one-year-old son, Jordan Drew, and reunited with his wifeJamie at the conclusion of the ceremony.

"He's huge, he's a little miracle," Hilty said of his son. "We've been married 10 years and we finally got one!"

This deployment was Hilty's third, but he said the welcome home ceremonies never get old.

"This is the best feeling in the world," Hilty said. "I'm going to take about 30 days off, spend time with the family, then attend my senior leader course, get back to training because the Army never stops. We've been doing this for 10 years and we love it, it's our life."

The brigade deployed last January in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where they were the only sustainment brigade in Afghanistan. They were responsible for providing items such as fuel, foodstuffs and equipment to the warfighters on the ground. To accomplish this, they ran an average of 41 convoys a month to forward operating bases throughout Regional Command-East and Regional Command-South.

During their year in Afghanistan, the brigade's footprint increased considerably. When they arrived in January they were responsible for 1,200 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. By December, these figures had increased to 3,300 personnel.

The 45th Sust. Bde. was also instrumental in providing training to the Afghan National Army. They provided vital training on subjects varying from noncommissioned officer professional development, to combat life-saving skills, to weapons handling.

This was the brigade's second 12-month deployment since transforming from the former 25th Infantry Division Support Command in November 2005. The brigade returned from Northern Iraq in July 2006.

Page last updated Fri December 18th, 2009 at 20:28