FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 13, 2018) -- Nearly 100 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), reunited with family and friends March 12 upon returning to Fort Drum from a six-month deployment to Africa.

Awaiting the arrival of Staff Sgt. Christopher Moyer were his sister, brother-in-law, niece, uncle and father.

"We're like his family unit," said his sister, Jessica Gehman. "This is his fourth deployment - Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and Africa - and we've been to all the welcome home ceremonies."

His father, Jon Moyer, said that they were able to communicate with Moyer more than they had during his previous deployments - a few phone calls, but more instant messaging than anything else. Gehman said that was especially important to them during the holidays.

"We definitely more regular communication than before," Jessica said. "It's been less stressful, I would say. He can't always reach out to all of us at the same time, so we group message each other to give each other updates."

The 1-87 Infantry Soldiers deployed last September to replace the former 101st Airborne Division-led task force at Contingency Location Garoua, in northern Cameroon. As Task Force Darby, the Soldiers conducted base operations security integration in support of U.S. Army Africa Command regionally aligned forces to protect U.S. forces and support the host nation.

Col. Shane Morgan, 1st BCT commander, said that the 1-87 Infantry Soldiers represented the U.S. military presence in West Africa and they were able to strengthen the bond with Cameroonian partners.

"While deployed, Task Force Darby Soldiers enabled all special operations forces throughout the area of responsibility, worked closely with other U.S. governmental agencies, and strengthened relationships and strategic partnerships with multiple countries throughout the region," he said.

Task Force Darby supported Operation Juniper Shield in the counter-Boko Haram effort, working with joint and international partner military agencies. Morgan said that the task force was able to assist with a road repair project, and they also engaged in humanitarian actions - partnering with local hospitals to improve sanitary conditions, teaching English language classes to local nationals and mentoring children at a local youth center.

"Most importantly, these Soldiers did what they do best - they took care of each other," Morgan said.

Morgan applauded the redeploying Soldiers for setting the foundation for future missions that 1st BCT units will conduct in Africa. He noted that the majority of the returning Soldiers were from C Company, and that other elements of the 1-87 Infantry are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

"And there's a reason this cohesive unit was sent first," Morgan said. "They were well-trained, well-led, and these Soldiers were ready for any mission our nation requires."

Morgan said the predeployment training was intensive, to include platoon live-fire exercises, advanced medical training and numerous classes to prepare them for the conditions in which they would operate.

"Task Force Darby validated our 'Ready Now' posture," Morgan said.

Capt. Lucas Dunaway, C Company commander, said that it was a great experience working with the Cameroonian military.

"They are very passionate about the security of their country, and they're a very professional force," he said. "Just being able to help out in some small way was really a great experience for us."