By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)May 12, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany - Families and friends began cheering even before Soldiers entered the Wiesbaden Fitness Center May 11. As word quickly spread that the buses had arrived from Ramstein bearing the roughly 140 men and women of the 212th Military Police Company home from Iraq, those waiting in the gym were on their feet too excited to wait one minute longer.
"To you family and friends - thank you for all the support you gave during this deployment," said Capt. Luis Meija-Roman, 212th MP Company commander, adding that the cards and packages were greatly appreciated.
Praising the Soldiers under his command for the "pride, resiliency and honor" with which they carried out the mission in Iraq, Meija-Roman added, "I'm honored to serve in the ranks."
After asking his first sergeant to dismiss those standing in formation, the fitness center quickly became a human sea of smiles, hugs and kisses.
1st Sgt. Jimmy Stogner explained that after completing the more than 14-month mission, he was looking forward to being home in Wiesbaden and spending time with his wife.
Stogner, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who had worked closely with Iraqi Police earlier in the decade during deployment with the 127th Military Police Company out of Hanau, said this time the mission called on the American military law enforcers to perform "validation of Kirkuk inner city police stations. ... There is a big difference now.
"Within the city of Kirkuk the Iraqi Police are now in control," Stogner said, emphasizing that he noted a major improvement in the professionalism and self-confidence of the Iraqi Police during his most recent time in Iraq. "They stay and fight now. They bring the fight to the enemy."
Stogner also praised his fellow 212th MPs for their dedicated efforts to make a difference in Iraq. "I'm proud of the Soldiers in this unit. It's because of them that we were successful," he said.
Capt. Derrick Dew, 212th MP Company rear detachment commander, said he was relieved to have his comrades home from Iraq. "We had a lot of close calls but no combat deaths."
With representatives of the USO, Veterans of Foreign Wars, 18th Military Police Brigade and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden on hand to welcome the Soldiers home during the homecoming event, the focus quickly shifted to reintegration and time with family and friends. Next up for the 212th members was the garrison's seven-day reintegration process aimed at helping ensure the health, well-being and care of the returning warriors as they transition back to life on the home front.