St. Louis native Maj. Craig Hickerson (left), commander for the 1070th Psychological Operations Detachment, attached to the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, discusses future plans upon returning home with Capt. Alejandro Restrepo, chief of operations for the 1st BCT during the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop's "100 Days Left Party" at Camp Taji, Iraq Oct. 6. HHT Soldiers celebrated the beginning of the end of their deployment after being extended three additional months.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division celebrated what they hope signifies their final 100 days of their 15-month deployment during a party here Oct. 6.

The fall party marking their first year here and approximately 100 days left to the end of the deployment also recognized their continued hard work. The evening had a sense of the tropics as they closed out the summer season. The hall of the HHT troop area was widely decorated with palm trees, colorful balloons and streamers to fully accomplish the tropical atmosphere.

The Ironhorse Brigade set boots on ground in theater October 2006 and was originally scheduled for a 12-month deployment. A three-month extension was announced in late April.

The still-motivated soldiers socialized and played games while enjoying the plethora of food at the party.

"Positive events, such as this party, are a good morale builder," said Fort Walton Beach, Fla., native Spc. Andrew Dubay, an infantryman for a personal security detachment attached to HHT, who spends most of his time in Iraq providing security outside the wire.

Many of the Soldiers said they find solace by keeping in touch with their loved ones and relaxing on their limited time off with fellow troops. Participating in events the morale, welfare and recreation center provides, going to the pool and playing spades are a few things that help them stay upbeat.

"The additional time away from family is hard to cope with, but I understand that the extension enabled the surge and it helped bring more stability," said Master Sgt. Jason Swain, noncommissioned officer in charge of intelligence for the Ironhorse Brigade, who hails from Del Rio, Texas.

The Soldiers said they look forward to returning home and reuniting with loved ones.

"It doesn't matter what I do, just being with my wife and daughter is enough," said Swain.

Dubay, who recently reenlisted for another six years, plans on getting married and going to Ranger school once he returns home.

Ironhorse troops anticipate being back in the states by mid-February next year.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16