Awards ceremony marks start of TF Iron's road home
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Edward Hoogland (left), battalion supply officer; U.S. Army 1st Lt. Austin Bass (center), Company B, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, executive officer; and U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kirk Hines, battalion operations sergeant major, receive Bronze Stars on Forward Operating Base Andar Dec. 29 as they start the road home for 3rd Battalion, 187th Inf. Regt. (Photo by U.S. Army 1st Lt. R.J. Peek, Task Force Rakkasan)

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan- The first Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, will be heading home soon after spending the last 11 months in eastern Afghanistan.

Task Force Iron held a ceremony to award the departing Soldiers with their end of tour awards. Five Bronze Stars and 21 Army Commendation Medals were awarded at the ceremony.

Soldiers who arrived early in Afghanistan, such as company executive officers and supply sergeants, are the first to redeploy home and set the conditions for the rest of the battalion.

The Soldiers who return to the states first will play a similar role to that which they filled for the initial deployment. They will help complete coordination and facilitate a smooth return for the rest of the Soldiers.

"Returning to Fort Campbell (Ky.) before the rest of the battalion is just as important of a job as those continuing the fight in East Ghazni, Afghanistan," said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kirk Hines from Clarksville, Tenn., operations sergeant major for 3rd Bn. 187th Inf. Regt. "There is a lot to be done to ensure the rest of the Soldiers can return home quickly and safely."

The road home is still a long process, said Hines. Prior to leaving Forward Operating Base Andar, the Soldiers must also undergo a series of briefings of how to adjust to a noncombat environment. The entire process is expected to take more than a week before the Soldiers will step onto American soil once again.

"It's great to see these Soldiers going home," said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Merletti from Cleveland, 3rd Bn. 187th Inf. Regt. assistant operations officer. "They've done a great job here and will set the stage for the battalion's return home."

Page last updated Wed January 5th, 2011 at 03:05