Fort Lee unit redeploys
September 15, 2011
By D.R. Bingham
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 15, 2011)--Soldiers of the 54th Quartermaster Company returned to Fort Lee Sept. 11 after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan and Kuwait. They were welcomed by family and friends during a redeployment ceremony at the Post Field House.
Lindsey Gagnon, grandmother of 2-year-old Trinity and 10-month-old Taya, had her hands full as the tots grew restless. Their mom and dad, Sgt. Shelby Torres and Spc. Jonathan Torres, had both deployed with the company.
Gagnon said her daughter signed a waiver to go since Taya was only 4 months old when she left. The children stayed with their grandmother in Connecticut. Wiping away tears, Gagnon admitted she will be sad driving back without them.
"It was my honor to take care of the children. She needed to go, and I understood that decision. I'm proud of her," Gagnon said.
When Capt. Bryan Alexander deployed, his twin son and daughter were still crawling. It was the second deployment for the 54th company commander. Now they're walking and running, said mom Andrea as she chased 10-month-old Mac and Cora around the building.
Andrea said her husband tracked the kids' growth and played peek-a-boo with them via Skype.
"The most difficult part of the deployment for me was the middle of the night when they woke up screaming and I was the only one there," Andrea said. "Now we can tag team."
Lt. Col. Albert Tapp, commander, 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, welcomed the 51 Soldiers home and noted the significance of their returning on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"Some extraordinary people who have been fighting terrorism because of that day have paid the ultimate sacrifice," Tapp said.
The 54th QM Co. Soldiers recovered the remains and personal effects of those killed in the Pentagon attack in 2001, as part of Operation Noble Eagle.
Since 2003, the 54th has conducted biennial deployments in support of the war effort; it's one of two active duty mortuary affairs companies in the Army, both are based at Fort Lee.
The returning Soldiers are part of the unit's first detachment; its second detachment deployed to Afghanistan in August.