FORT CARSON, Colo. - "There is so much emotion ... I can't describe it right now."
That's all Courtney Hansmann could say as she was overcome by emotions as she watched her husband, Spc. Joshua Hansmann, hold their first child, 5-day-old son Aiden, for the first time Feb. 8. Joshua, with Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, was speechless as he was caught up in the moment.
The Hansmanns were one of many 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Families to be reunited in the past two weeks as more than 3,500 Soldiers returned to the Mountain Post following a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 3rd BCT, 4th ID return began with two advance team flights, Jan. 21 and 28, bringing home 244 Soldiers, followed by the 3,500 Soldiers returning on 15 flights in a 13-day span. The remaining 100 brigade Soldiers are due to return by the end of the month.
After taxiing in Colorado Springs, the Soldiers are met on the tarmac by 3rd BCT, 4th ID senior leadership, Patriot Guard Riders, the 4th ID Band, Fort Hood, Texas, and members of the community grateful for their service. They then board buses and receive a Colorado Springs Police escort to the Mountain Post where the Fort Carson Fire Department welcomes them with sirens blaring.
The Soldiers arrive at the Garcia Physical Fitness Center for weapons turn-in and some final paperwork. While this is taking place, Family and friends eagerly await their arrival in the Special Events Center as they watch a video of the Soldiers deplaning trying to catch a glimpse of their loved ones and passing the time with dances such as the "YMCA" and "The Chicken Dance."
Fate Boxley was all smiles Feb. 11 as she awaited the arrival of her son, Spc. Harry Lee Smith, Jr. She said she was unable to be in New Jersey two weeks earlier when her other son, Air Force Airmen Demarcus Smith, returned from Iraq.
Boxley, from Natchez, Miss., said looking forward to "going to go crazy" with the rest of the crowd when the Soldiers arrived and "holding him (her son) tight, going to eat and letting him splurge on what he wants."
The Soldiers re-board the buses and travel to the Special Events Center, via a Fort Carson Police escort, where Family and friends eagerly await the beginning of the welcome-home ceremony. The generally standing-room only crowds erupts as Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Ride, White and Blue" begins to play, and then explodes as the doors open and the Soldiers march in.
Following a brief ceremony, that includes "a job well done" from 4th ID senior leadership and a prayer for their continued safety, the Soldiers, Family and friends are finally reunited following the anxiously-anticipated command of "Fallout."