By Patrick Young, Fort Stewart Public AffairsNovember 26, 2008
FORT STEWART, GA -- Nearly 200 Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team were welcomed home at Fort Stewart's Cottrell Field in two separate ceremonies, Nov. 23, following their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The warriors arrived at two separate times, both in the darkness, but were greeted warmly by hundreds of waiting Family and friends as well as the music of the 3rd Infantry Division Band.
The first group of returnees was greeted by 3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo and Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver, Brig. Gen. Patrick Donohue, who congratulated them on their success and welcomed them back home.
"General Donohue and I are extremely proud to be the first to officially welcome you home," Cucolo said, noting their arrival signaled the return of the remaining 4th BCT Soldiers.
"We couldn't be more proud of your service. You should be proud of whom you are, and all you have accomplished for your unit and country. Welcome home."
Mike Keating, Vietnam Veterans of America, was among the members of Chapter 789 who shared that pride in service, and helped kindle that feeling of pride among guest by passing out miniature American flags to the hundreds in attendance.
Tonya Wilson, wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Wilson, Headquarters Platoon, B Co., 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment was one of the Family members waiting. A native of Hinesville, she said this, as a second deployment, was easier than the first because she knew what to expect was able to keep her children busy. She said her children, Elizabeth, 13; Mikyla, 8; and Bradley, 4. A tip she shared that helped ease the pressure was starting email accounts for her children so they could keep in contact with their father daily.
Not all those waiting were Family; some were Soldiers who arrived on the first flight, wanting to greet their comrade's home.
One of those Soldiers were Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Stewart, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4/64 Armor.
"It feels great to be home. A little cold, but I wouldn't trade it for anything," Stewart said. Stewart said his Family was in Tampa, Fl. and noted he looked forward to seeing them, especially his daughter Mackenzie, 11, who he hoped to surprise for Thanksgiving and left her a special message, "I love you so much and can't wait to see you."
Editor's Note: Contributing information provided by Spc. Amanda McBride, 4th BCT Public Affairs.