By Spc. Brea DuBoseJune 28, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., June 28, 2018 -- Recently Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 75th Field Artillery (FA) Brigade, returned to Fort Sill after a nine-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. With approximately 120 Soldiers coming back, the brigade's rear-detachment leaders have worked diligently to welcome them home and ensure reintegration with their families and community is as seamless as possible.
On May 21, before sunrise, Lt. Col. Will Freds, 75th FA Brigade provisional commander and brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Masters, waited on the flight line of Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport for the battery's impending arrival. While brigade leaders may have woken up just a few hours earlier that morning, many of the brigade headquarters Soldiers had been up for 24 hours, off and on, during their flight home.
When the plane landed, Col. Steven Carpenter, 75th FA brigade commander, got off the plane first and stood at the bottom of the steps with Freds and Masters to shake the hands of the returning Soldiers who walked off the plane.
"I come home very proud of all the men and women that are serving in support of the brigade both in Afghanistan, and Iraq, Syria and all across the Arabian Peninsula in Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab of Emirates," Carpenter said.
The redeployment ceremony at Rinehart Fitness Center was held just hours after the unit's return. The stands filled with friends and family members and special guests, such as Brig. Gen. Randall McIntire, Air Defense Artillery School commandant and chief of ADA, who traveled to officiate the ceremony. As the Soldiers waited outside the auditorium doors, the 77th Army Band played popular tunes for audience members.
Soon, the ceremony began, and the Soldiers entered the building. Immediately, there was a loud uproar of excitement and cheers from the crowd as the Soldiers marched in.
Within minutes, Carpenter and Masters uncased the brigade colors, ceremonially marking the unit's homecoming. As soon as their commander dismissed the Soldiers, the crowd spilled out from the bleachers onto the gym floor toward the Soldiers in formation.
"I was very excited to be back home," said Sgt. Johan Duque, a fire control specialist with the redeploying brigade headquarters. "I was glad everybody came back safe."
Duque, like many other Soldiers in the unit, has missed birthdays, holidays, his children's school events and important anniversaries. He revealed that although he was eager to get back to normal garrison life with his family and fall into their established routine, he worried about the hiccups that would come with the process of reintegrating back into life at home.
"I was excited to get back to my family, but I was nervous at the thought of having to readjust," Duque said.
AFTER THE RETURN
Since the brigade headquarters' return, the brigade staff has worked to make the reintegration process as seamless as possible while still keeping up the tempo of everyday Army life for the Soldiers who stayed at Fort Sill as part of the rear detachment. Following the redeployment ceremony, the recently returned HHB, 75th Soldiers received a 24-hour pass. The weekend the Soldiers returned, the brigade held a Strong Bonds event in Oklahoma City for them.
Sgt. 1st Class Erin Thorman, a recently redeployed Soldier, attended the event at the Aloft Hotel with his wife and two children.
While their children were in a separate room under the watch of provided child-care workers, the Thormans, along with other couples, focused on spending time with one another and reconnecting.
"I think anytime, no matter where a couple is in their relationship whether it's brand new or a few years old it's good to have dedicated time where you can be with each other," Thorman said.
The workshop centered on Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages." The book, popularly cited by family and relationship experts, teaches couples ways in which to best express love toward their partner. Thorman said the theme of the event was perfect for the returning Soldiers and their spouses.
"It's [important] in anyone's relationship, especially when you've been away, for each spouse to be able to communicate what they've been missing for the past nine months," Thorman noted.
On May 29, the brigade held an award and recognition ceremony for civilians and Soldiers whose roles were crucial to the success of the brigade headquarters mission during deployment. The ceremony commenced in the evening at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, as 114 Soldiers received recognition for their service. Of those Soldiers, six received Bronze Star Medals.
Currently, many of the Soldiers have gone on leave with their families and are taking a reprieve from Army life.
As they continue to settle back in the unit and their homes, the brigade is still engaged in various missions in the Far East and Middle East.
Four more battalions remain stationed at Fort Sill in support of III Corps, training and preparing for any mission that may arise.
Carpenter said challenges come with commanding a brigade that is distributed across five areas of responsibility, but he trusts the leaders within his brigade.
"You have to trust your leaders," Carpenter said, "and we have some phenomenal leaders across the brigade. You have to be able to give commanders intent -- that's basically our purpose, our reason for existence -- and the key tasks associated with that; and expect our leaders to follow through."
While he encourages brigade headquarter's Soldiers to spend their time off with their families, Carpenter advised them to come back refreshed and ready for whatever mission comes their way.
"We'll take a short leave, reinvest in our families, and then come back ready for III Corps if they call on us," he said.