By Stephanie CaffallFebruary 6, 2015
The 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion arrived home on Fort Huachuca Wednesday at Libby Army Airfield. Approximately 300 Soldiers returned after performing communications contingency operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in southwest Asia.
"Team 40th successfully provided communications support to United States Army Central and its subordinate units in seven countries (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates) throughout southwest Asia in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield," said Lt. Col. David Thomas, commander, 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. "Command Sgt. Maj. [John] Reinburg and I are very proud of our Soldiers and what they accomplished over the past nine months."
Col. James Parks III, commander, 11th Signal Brigade, addressed the crowd with enthusiasm, finally releasing the Soldiers to reunite with their loved ones.
"This is the best part," Parks said, smiling. "Since I have been the brigade commander -- this is my second month in command -- this is the first time we will have everybody home. This has been a tremendous experience and the Fort Huachuca community has been absolutely great in supporting our battalion."
Among the many who waited at Barnes Field House for Soldiers to arrive was Capt. Cameron Wright, a 40th ESB Soldier, who served nine months in Kuwait. He sat amongst the crowd, eagerly awaiting for his fellow battalion members to return.
"I'm here to show support," Wright said. "I came back early, about two weeks ago. It's nice to have everyone back."
Wright added, "The 40th did a great job over there. We had some surprise missions that were accomplished with professionalism that went above and beyond."
Amber Arredondo found out she was pregnant while her husband, Spc. Ryan Arredondo, a satellite communications operator, was still on leave during his first deployment.
"He was just in shock," Amber said, describing when he first heard the news. "He'd always wanted to be a dad and now he's super excited.
Amber further described, "It was just kind of all a blur. I sort of freaked out. I knew I would be able to handle everything, it was just sort of overwhelming at the time."
Amber Arredondo's husband has been away for nine months. The first time her husband saw Aria, their now 7-month-old girl, was through Skype.
"I'd been all by myself all throughout the hospitalization, but we were actually skyping whenever they were about to rush me in [to labor]," Amber said. "It was really awesome. I got to Skype with him and then my dad took the phone after she was born so Ryan got to see her before I did. He got to see me hold her for the first time. "
Amber added, "He's way more exited to meet her. He can't wait to [carry] her around and go up to people saying 'look what I made.'"
While her husband was away, Amber has stayed with her family.
"I've almost been taking care of her completely by myself. I've just had lots of time to get to know her all by myself," Amber explained.
Amber explained that throughout the day she cleaned her entire house in preparation for her Soldier to return.
For the evening Amber explained, "I'm going to be ordering pizza ahead of time and we're just going to hang out."
For Alisha Turner, this day couldn't have come sooner. Shortly after Turner and her husband's anniversary on May 3 and while preparing for her husband's deployment, Turner found out she was pregnant.
"It was a surprise for both of us, and I was out of my mind," Turner said. "He was so happy."
Turner expressed that being without her husband wasn't easy.
"It's hard. I'm not going to say it was easy because it wasn't at all. We've been in contact through Skype and picture messaging, so that made it easier. But he's ready to meet him," Turner said, looking down at her 1-month-old son minutes before her husband walked through the doors of Barnes Field House.
"It's been one of those up and down days," Turner said, eagerly awaiting her Soldier's arrival. "I've been worried that something is going to happen and they're going to get delayed or not be here on time. But finally we're here. We're waiting for him to walk through the doors, watching our phones."
Turner's advice for spouses of deployed Soldiers is, "stay busy and keep in contact as much as you can. It goes by fast, especially when you're staying busy."
"It feels great. I'm excited to be home," said Spc. James Turner, 40th ESB, while holding his son for the first time.