By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public AffairsNovember 4, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - The faces of about 200 Soldiers from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) changed rapidly from weary and tired from days of travel to upbeat and excited as they walked through the doors of the Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center here Nov. 3.
For these Soldiers -- about 130 of them from the 418th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, and the remainder from the 546th Area Support Medical Company, 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade -- walking through the doors meant their deployment to Iraq was over, and it was time for them to see their families again.
Some of the Soldiers didn't even know their families would be there, like Spc. Joshua Gillard, a truck driver originally from Atlanta.
Gillard's parents, William and Ethel Gillard, made the 14-hour drive Oct. 31 to surprise their son when he returned home, which was originally scheduled to be on the next day, Nov. 1.
Ethel said she was anxious for her son to get home, having waited all weekend, but she was excited as well.
"Words can't explain what I'm feeling," she said. "I'm full of joy."
Gillard also had his wife C'alace and his 13-month-old daughter Jordan waiting for him. According to C'alace, he was not able to be home for Jordan's birth, but was home about six months ago when she started crawling.
Emily Lamb was also waiting for her husband Pvt. Charles Lamb, a mechanic with the 418th, to come home.
"I'm so excited, I just want to see his face," she beamed, looking toward the doors.
According to Emily, she and Lamb have been together for seven years; they were high school sweethearts who married only six days before he deployed to Iraq.
Out of the last two years, they have been together only 50 days, because of basic combat training and the deployment, Emily said.
She explained she currently lives in Minnesota, and will only be at Fort Hood for another week before she has to return, but plans to move back to Texas in December.
Once the short ceremony was complete, the Soldiers were released to their families, which was an indescribable feeling, according to Gillard.
"It feels good," he said. "Fifteen months is a long time."
Gillard said he was glad to see his parents there, especially since they told him they would not be able to make it, and now that he is home, he is looking forward to eating something other than food from the dining facility.