WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD (Dec. 19, 2009) - More than 340 Soldiers from the 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade returned home to the screams and cheers of family and loved ones during a redeployment ceremony here Saturday.

The battalion returned to Schofield Barracks from Tikrit, Iraq where they performed engineering and route clearance missions in support of the 25th Infantry Division and other units.

"It feels good to be back home," Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rodriguez, 65th Eng. Bn. "We were there doing what the Army called upon us to do and now we're back home, spending time with the family after a job well done."

This was the first deployment to Iraq for the many of the Soldiers who relied on the veteran "Sappers" for their combat experience.

"This is not my first time doing this [deploying], but my third," said Staff Sgt. Bradley Favinger, 65th Eng. Bn. "My family is familiar with the deployment lifestyle and now my wife can get a break while we connect and get back together as a family. It's never easy leaving home but I stayed in touch through the internet and phone calls, which helped get my family and I through."

Sgt. Kabir Rivera held his seven-month-old twin daughters, Kailaniz and Yaneliz, as his tearful wife, Lisa looked on proudly.

"Holding them is unbelievable," Rivera said. "They were born while I was deployed and I can't believe how beautiful they are!"

The "First In, Last Out" battalion has a distinguished history, including the defense of Oahu following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and heavy combat throughout the Pacific during World War II. The 65th also fought in Korea and Vietnam and earned Presidential Unit Citations for duty in the Philippines and Korea.

The Soldiers will have plenty of time to relax with family and friends during the holiday season as they go through the reintegration process and unwind from a long deployment away from home.

Page last updated Wed December 23rd, 2009 at 16:36