SFAT Soldiers welcomed, fallen remembered
December 13, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Family and friends welcomed home 64 Soldiers from the 214th Fires Brigade Security Force Assistance Team (SFAT) Dec. 8, following their deployment to Afghanistan nine months ago.
The bleachers were filled to capacity and standing room only areas were packed as the SFAT Soldiers, lead by Col. Timothy Daugherty, 214th FiB commander, marched into Rinehart Fitness Center here.
The whole brigade, family and friends, to include the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 751, were among the many to greet the team.
"It's the most I've ever seen," said Ray Adams, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America who has attended each homecoming ceremony here.
Everyone cheered loud as Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, welcomed the troops back to the United States.
"We've got to say thank you for what you have done. You were in a tough fight in the toughest terrain that exists. You did a superb job," McDonald said.
"But it came at a cost. You all heard. We lost two Soldiers. We've got two more who are wounded, and those wounds will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So for those families we owe a deep debt of gratitude. Thank you, we won't forget their service," he said.
The invocation included a moment of silence for the two Soldiers who did not return, Capt. Jesse Ozbat, 28, of Prince George, Va., and 1st Lt. Tobias Alexander, 30, of Elgin. They died May 20 of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device attack.
Less than eight minutes after the ceremony began the band played the "Army Song" and the families and friends stormed the floor to greet their heroes.
"This is the best gift I could ask for. I am so thrilled to have my son back safely and am extremely proud of what he has done," said one tearful father who traveled from North Carolina to welcome his son.
This was the first of two groups that the 214th FiB has scheduled to come home within the next two months. It was the perfect Christmas gift for one wife who had a sign painted, "All I want for Christmas is you Capt. Westbrook."