By Spc. Katryn McCalment, 50th PADMarch 13, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Angela Sward's eyes watered as she hugged her husband, Sgt. Michael Sward, a team leader with the 65th Military Police Company (Airborne), for the first time in 15 months. The couple didn't speak as they held each other for nearly two minutes.
About 160 Soldiers from the 65th Military Police Company, 503rd Military Police Battalion (Airborne), returned after a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Saturday to the cheers of Family and friends at Pope Air Force Base's Green Ramp.
In his brief remarks during the ceremony, Canadian Brig. Gen. Nicolas Matern, deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, paid tribute to the Soldiers who have returned home and their Families.
"The Soldiers have made sacrifices, but the Family members behind me have made an even greater sacrifice," Matern said, as the Soldiers applauded their loved ones.
During the long deployment, the company's primary mission was to conduct police transition team operations and police intelligence operations in the Mahmudiyah District of Iraq.
"The Soldiers have played a vital role in the Global War on Terror," said Matern, referring to the more than 3,590 missions successfully completed by the company.
The Soldiers also managed nine Iraqi police stations within the Mahamudiyah district, including the district headquarters, developed an Iraqi emergency response unit and created an Iraqi police noncommissioned officer academy at Yusifiyah.
The overwhelming success of the NCO academy prompted the Iraqi army to adopt it as its own NCO academy as well.
"They (Soldiers) got the Iraqi police pointed in the right direction. It's a significant improvement from what they've had in that area," said Master Sgt. Kenneth Hadley, operations sergeant for the 503rd MP Bn.
During their deployment, 65th MP Co. Soldiers earned 25 Bronze Star medals, 134 Army Commendation medals, and two Army Achievement medals.
As the command to be dismissed was given, 8-year-old Lacey Henry ran to greet her father, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Henry, a platoon sergeant for 65th MP Co. and promptly gave him bunny-ears as they posed for photos.
"It's great to have them home. They did a tremendous job," said Hadley.