20TH Engineer Brigade headquarters returns from Iraq
December 9, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - More than 60 Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 20th Engineer Brigade, were welcomed back home to Fort Bragg after a year-long deployment to Iraq on a chilly evening Nov. 30, at Green Ramp, Pope Field.
"On behalf of Fort Bragg and surrounding communities, the state of North Carolina, the U.S. Army and a grateful nation, welcome home and job well done," said Maj. Gen. Rodney O. Anderson, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.
With expectations of all troops being home by the end of the year, this was the first group of Soldiers from the 20th Eng. Bde. returning as part of the continued drawdown from Iraq.
"It's a great feeling," said 1st Lt. Lamario Thomas, a medical service officer with HHC, 20th Eng. Bde. "One of our main goals was to leave a good, lasting impression for the people of Iraq, and I believe we have done that," he said.
"With my first time being overseas and being a part of history, it's a pretty historic moment for us," said Spc. Cody H. Phillips, a geospatial engineer with HHC, 20th Eng. Bde. "I am glad to be one of the last remaining troops to be in Iraq."
The brigade's mission in Iraq included different tasks such as constructing bridges for the country as well as route clearances. Route clearances were among the more important objectives during their time in Iraq.
"We also played a big part in the advise, train, assist and equip mission in Iraq with the Iraqi army," said Thomas, also the 20th Eng. Bde.'s acting public affairs officer. "Our Prime Power Academy was created to help the Iraqis learn how to run a power plant. We hope they will continue with the school to pass on the knowledge."
Back on the home front, Families and friends overcame the challenges of having their loved ones away.
A health care administrator for 51st Medical Company (Logistics), 44th Medical Brigade, 2nd Lt. Alexsandra Fajardo, who is also a best friend to Thomas and 2nd Lt. Tiara Joseph, said that keeping in contact with them through the Internet made the time go by because it helped maintain the communication between them.
"It was weird not having them here," said Fajardo. "We all had enlisted together and graduated from the same school prior to commissioning, but I'm glad we were able to keep in contact. It's pretty exciting to see them be a part of the last units to leave from Iraq."
First Lt. Christian Hall, and his wife Jessica, were expecting their daughter, now seven-month-old Stella, two weeks after finding out Hall was deploying.
"He made it home for her birth during his R and R and left when she was only a week old," Hall said. "It was difficult doing it on my own, but I tried to make sure I did everything I could for her to remember him, like having a daddy doll."
Another successful redeployment from Iraq has been completed, as the U.S. military moves forward to honor its commitment to the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement and redeploy the remaining 33,000 troops by Dec. 31. With the brigade returning home, they are a part of the history of a long war in Iraq.
"To our returning heroes, thank you for your dedication and support in completing the mission. To our Family members, thank you for your love, support and your patience. To you all, thank you very much, job well done, welcome home," said Anderson.