FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - After their nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, Soldiers with the 3rd Platoon, 551st Military Police Company "Hooligans," 716th Military Police Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade "Lifeliners," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), successfully completed their mission and proudly return home April 10, to Fort Campbell.
During the deployment, the unit performed U.S. customs and border protections operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan, ensuring that redeploying personnel were free of contraband or hazardous items.
Families and friends shouted with excitement, as the Soldiers marched in formation with packs on their backs, weapons in their hands and big smiles on their faces.
"I love to see them together like that, the group, it's just reassuring to me as a father and as a citizen ... I'm just glad to have him back," said Chris Hellrung from Alton, Ill., in reference to his son Spc. Bryan Hellrung, one of the returning Soldiers.
The time away from their loved ones made this homecoming all the more sweeter. With tears of joy and laughter, Families hugged and kissed their Heroes knowing that they were finally safe and sound and in their arms once again.
"To see them come back to Fort Campbell to their families, it is an awesome, awesome feeling," said Capt. Stephen Donaldson a native of McKinney, Texas, and the commander of the 551st MP Co about his platoon. "We feel more complete. We always feel a little bit empty when a piece of your company is away and I'm sure the families feel the same. It's awesome to see our Soldiers reunite with their families."
It is always a challenge to be away from loved ones, but these Soldiers served their country well as the gatekeepers to Operation Enduring Theater. They inspected thousands of troops and pieces of cargo moving in and out of military operating areas.
"These Soldiers down range were incredible, they worked very hard throughout their entire nine months in Afghanistan, stated Donaldson.
"We ask a lot out of our Soldiers. They have to commit, they have to go down range - go into harm's way."
These Soldiers don't get much of a break from their duties. The MPs are also charged with the mission to protect the Fort Campbell community.
"These guys as Military Policeman work to secure the community of Fort Campbell. We are law enforcement experts. That's what we're proud of," Donaldson stated emphatically.
The experience gained as they work in the Fort Campbell community gave them an upper hand with their mission in Afghanistan.
"I think the 101st Airborne Division prides themselves as a little bit higher caliber of a Soldier and the Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, 551st absolutely lived up to that," said Donaldson. "I'm proud to call them Hooligans and I'm proud to be called a Hooligan because of Soldiers like them."