KILLEEN, Texas -- (Sept. 2, 2015) Family, friends and co-workers came together Sept. 1 to welcome home Soldiers from the 418th Contracting Support Brigade at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport following their six-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel."It's overwhelming to see everybody here and the outpouring of support from the unit, and especially my wife," said Col. Dennis McGowan, the 418th CSB commander who led the deployment. "It's clear that the 418th has a strong family readiness group."While elements of the brigade from Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Drum, New York, remain deployed, more than a dozen members from the brigade headquarters returned home from deployment where they were responsible for the transition of contracting from a joint construct to that of a lead service. The 418th CSB served as the command and control of Expeditionary Contracting Command-Afghanistan."It's great to be back to our family and friends," said 418th CSB Command Sgt. Maj. Marlon Cooper. "We went on a great mission and accomplished a lot of things. I'm very proud of the Soldiers for all they've done."Cooper's wife, Capt. Tantanisha Cooper, was among the families members awaiting the return of brigade members at the airport. With a child each serving in the Army and Air Force, they still have two at home and will be providing temporary care for their granddaughter, whose family is deploying."It's great to have them back. The families are happy, and I know my kids and grandchild are very happy," she said. "It gives me an extra set of hands to help with the kids."During her husband's absence, Cooper said she found the organization's family readiness group helpful."Anything that a family may need, they know that the FRG is there for them," she said. "It provides assistance with anything from help with a child to cutting the grass. They are there when our significant other is gone."Bev Thrasher, the wife of contract specialist Staff Sgt. Robert Thrasher, leads the FRG and believes her experience of having gone through three deployments helps to anticipate the needs of other spouses."We're a battle buddy for the families," Thrasher said. "We're here in the background if they need assistance with anything or need to be pointed in the right direction."She said the group serves as a liaison between the unit and families for passing along information and allows spouses who share similar experiences and challenges to get to know each other."It helps give them peace of mind to know there is somebody to take care of their family if a situation comes up, such as a family emergency, a car breaks down or if a mom get sick and just needs a little extra help with the kids," Thrasher said.The command sergeant major said Soldiers will immediately begin transitioning and integrating back with their family and friends over the next few days leading into the holiday weekend before they begin block leave. They will have the chance to catch up on significant events they have missed and exchange stories.One particular event being shared at the airport came just the day before the members returned home when McGowan performed the Heimlich maneuver to help save the life of a woman who was chocking at a dining facility."The lady couldn't say anything, and her friend didn't know what to do. Like a Soldier, I'm thinking airway, breathing and so on. I asked, 'have you got an airway?' and she looked at me confused. So I said, "can you breathe?' She communicated no. I had her stand up, put her arms out a like a T, and I applied pressure. Nothing happened, so I told her I'm going to do much it harder this time."The extra pressure to the abdomen forced the obstruction from the grateful woman's throat.