FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 23, 2018) -- The 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum community welcomed back about 100 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers -- mostly from B Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment -- from a six-month deployment in Africa during a redeployment ceremony March 23 at Magrath Sports Complex.

For Ashley Wormuth, seeing her brother, Spc. Austin Mousley, return home was the "Best Birthday Present Ever," as indicated by the large sign she made for him. Wormuth traveled from Hamlin, Pa., with her parents, Lisa and Howard Mousley, for the happy homecoming.

"This is the longest we've ever been away from each other," Wormuth said. "We're very close. We stayed in touch through Wi-Fi, thank God."

This was Mousley's first deployment, and he said that it was an interesting experience.

"We did a lot of training to make sure we were always ready," he said. "There was a lot of physical training just to prepare for the combat training we did, and we were always training our minds so we would be focused on the mission."

Soldiers from B Company, 1-32 Infantry, deployed last September in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). As Task Force Bayonet, they served on the East African Response Force in Djibouti. The purpose of the EARF is to rapidly provide tailorable packages of forces to protect American interests on the continent of Africa should any threats arise.

"The Soldiers before us are Mountain Warriors, and they represent the very best our nation, our Army and the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division has to offer," said Col. Shane Morgan, 1st Brigade Combat Team commander. "Without question, these Soldiers operated in a climate and environment far different than we experience here at Fort Drum."

Stationed in Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, the deployed Soldiers provided a warfighting presence that was ready to respond to any contingency on the continent of Africa or elsewhere, Morgan said.

"This is important, for a well-trained, ready and lethal rifle company remains the building block to strategic deterrence, and our adversaries took notice," Morgan said. "The mission that they just performed is critical to keeping America safe."

Morgan said that the task force remained incredibly busy throughout the deployment providing force protection and base operations support, to include performing an emergency deployment readiness exercise. Among their accomplishments, 19 Soldiers earned the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, 24 Soldiers earned their Expert Infantryman Badge and multiple Soldiers graduated from the French Commando Desert Course.

"They remained trained and ready to deploy to any crises, and fortunately, none emerged on their watch," Morgan said. "Most important, these Soldiers did what they do best -- they trained hard while taking care of each other."