Welcome home
Master Sgt. Gary Lievense is greeted by his newest family member at the homecoming ceremony for the 214th Fires Brigade Security Force Assistance Team Jan. 10 at Rinehart Fitness Center. Lievense was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months.

FORT SILL, Okla.--Supporters of the 214th Fires Brigade packed Rinehart Fitness Center Jan. 10 at 3 a.m. as they welcomed home 57 Soldiers of the five remaining teams of the 214th Fires Brigade Security Force Assistance Team following their nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The bleachers shook as the screams filled the gym as the returning Soldiers, led by Lt. Col. Mark Schmitt, 214th FiB commander, marched into Rinehart gym.

The whole brigade, family and friends, to include the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 751, were on hand to greet the teams back, not giving a second thought to the early morning wake up it took to greet the local heroes.

Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, welcomed the team back to the United States.

After a quick thank you and reminder of what they have done for America by McDonald, the seats emptied and the crowd quickly embraced the Soldiers.

One of those Soldiers was Sgt. 1st Class Scott Baxley, greeted by his wife, two of his daughters and six grandchildren.

"I am really excited to have my husband back home. Scott hasn't even met his youngest grandchild, William, yet. I am so proud of him and the job he and his fellow Soldiers do. He has been my best friend since we were 15, and I miss the little things he did around the house. You don't realize how hard it is and all they do until they are gone," said Kim Baxley, Scott's wife.

Lisa Forge, wife of Capt. Justin Forge, sat eagerly as she held her 3-year-old son Ethan and 6-month-old son Kason, waiting to introduce her husband to Kason for the first time.

"Since he has not met Kason yet it makes this homecoming so special for us because of the way our family has changed and that we will finally be together," said Lisa.

"We missed celebrating the holidays with my husband, but I think I missed the ordinary things most of all. I missed having dinner as a family, watching my husband read stories to my son and putting him to bed and movie nights on the sofa. Silly little things that I don't normally think about, but they begin to mean more to you with their absence," she said.

Bethany Jones, wife of Capt. Craig Jones, said that she looks forward to "travelling with her husband and simple dinners with some quality time chatting."

Page last updated Thu January 17th, 2013 at 00:00