By Angie Thorne, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerJanuary 23, 2009
Home means different things to different people. For the Soldiers of the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, home is probably one of the sweetest, most poignant words uttered after a 15 month deployment in Iraq.
Home became a reality when these Soldiers were officially welcomed and praised for the success of their mission at the 142nd CSSB redeployment ceremony held at the 1st MEB Gym Jan. 15.
Lt. Col. Scott Estes, rear detachment commander, expressed his admiration of a job well done to Team Maverick. "Fifteen months -- that is a long time by any measure. The Soldiers before us played a key role in the success of a deployment that was pivotal in Iraq. They are now part of the fabric of military history," said Estes.
He then brought the past to bear by mentioning the holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King and his struggles. "Dr. King fought for justice and democracy. It's these very rights and freedoms that we are fighting to secure in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we look at the group of Soldiers before us, we see diversity that is the United States of America. It is this diversity from which our nation and our Army draws its strength," said Estes.
Congratulations were in order as Estes detailed some of the accomplishments of the 142nd while deployed. "I challenge you to name another nation or another Army that can field a group the size of the 142nd with nearly the same capability. With less than 80 Soldiers, Team Maverick made a name for themselves as the very best convoy security and distribution battalion in all of Iraq. Their accomplishments speak for themselves: over 11,000 combat missions, more than 3.5 million miles traveled on some of the most dangerous roads in the world, 400 combat infantry badges and combat action badges earned and every day they served with honor, accomplishment and amazingly brought every single Soldier home," said Estes.
Lt. Col. Timothy A. McKernan, battalion commander, also praised the Soldiers of Team Maverick. "Undoubtedly, they can look back with pride knowing they played an instrumental part in the turning point in the Iraqi conflict. They saw things through the dark moments to a new day with more hope for peace and security for not only the Iraqi people, but for people throughout the world," said McKernan.
McKernan then turned his attention to the heroes who supported the 142nd from home. "Today, I want to thank the people on the home front for their tireless efforts. Without them, our Soldiers would not have been able to accomplish the many great things that they did in Iraq. We have the best group of spouses, parents, children, volunteers and supporters I've seen during my five combat deployments. They constantly sent encouraging e-mails, cards, letters and care packages. We knew home was never far away. As you can see, the true power of Team Maverick was in our Family members left behind. They took care of the home front so we could take care of the war front," said Estes.
Kathy Carlson, spouse of Staff Sgt. Timothy Carlson, said, "It was easy at times, but always harder when my little boys were asking for their daddy. We had a good support system and we are used to this. Today is our twelfth anniversary, so we didn't have as hard a time as some of the younger couples," said Carlson.
Lydia Fessenden explained that for her, the toughest part of the deployment was trying to take care of three children and keeping her house clean while making sure that everyone had what they needed, including her husband. She added that when things got rough, she had people she could depend on. She said she couldn't have done it all without her Family. " I'm lucky. Not only do I have my Army Family, but my family is also Army. My father served 20 years, my mother served four years and my brother is on his second deployment right now. A lot of people don't have that," said Lydia.
Now that her husband is home, Fessenden is ecstatic. "No more dirty diapers. He hasn't let me change one since he has been home and I don't have to do the dishes all the time," said Lydia. Help with the house and kids is only one aspect of her happiness. "It's so much better. The days aren't as long and the nights aren't as lonely," said Lydia.
Her spouse, Spc. Brian Fessenden, said that being away from his wife and kids was what he missed the most. "Missing my youngest's first steps and first foods while I was gone was tough," said Brian. Since he has been home, Fessenden has enjoyed renewing those bonds. "I'm really enjoying just spending time with my Family. We have a vacation planned next month to visit our Families in Michigan," said Brian.
Spc. Carltonette Shell said, "I missed my kids growing up while I was gone. I have a seven- and a three-year-old and they have changed so much. My son is reading better and my daughter is using complete sentences. It kept me going when I could talk to them or I could see them on the web cam. It is so good to be home," said Shell.