By Ben Sherman, Fort Sill CannoneerJune 6, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Seventy members of 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade returned to Fort Sill after a 10-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
Thunderous applause and tears of joy from loved ones and retired service members greeted them as they marched into Rinehart Fitness Center June 2.
Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, welcomed home the returning Soldiers.
"Thanks for what you did. You did a fantastic job on your mission, a decisive air and missile defense operation all through the Central Command Area of Operations. We thank you so much for your mission," McDonald said.
"Being deployed over nine months on a combat operation in a combat environment is tough on you. It's tough on your body, and it's tough on your mind. So, if you have anything that is bothering you, let us know so we can fix it. We owe that to you."
McDonald also thanked the Soldier's families, saying that Soldiers cannot deploy and stay focused without the continued support and sacrifice that their family members make.
"You kept things going for more than nine months. You kept everything on track so they could stay focused on their mission. Your selfless service is no less significant than that of your Soldiers," McDonald said.
McDonald gave the command to Col. Michael Morrissey, 31st ADA commander, who dismissed the Soldiers to rousing cheers as family members ran to embrace their returning warriors.
Maj. Ray Fails, 31st ADA brigade S-4 officer-in-charge got a big surprise when he saw his 'official welcome home party,' made up of his wife, son, mother, younger brother and grandparents.
"Every homecoming is a good one, especially when we bring all of our Soldiers back home safe. That is first and foremost," Fells said. "This was definitely a big surprise to have so many folks welcome me home."