HONOLULU, Hawaii - An official Welcome Home Warrior Citizen ceremony and Yellow Ribbon Reintegration for the 962nd Quartermaster (Mortuary Affairs) Co. Detachment 2 signifying, for a deployment spanning two years of the most geographically dispersed Army Reserve Solders to finally cross back to their Pacific Warrior Citizen homes, mission accomplished.
A Welcome Home Warrior Citizen award ceremony is a way to honor and thank Soldiers and their families for giving themselves to their country. In this particular instance, the 962nd Soldiers from Alaska, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, across the Hawaiian islands and a few from other locations all converged, trained together as one concise unit, then deployed across the Central Command region, establishing teams from Kandahar to Kuwait, all with the mission of bringing them home.
The deployment split the company into two detachments, deploying Det. 1 first in August 2017, returning in 2018, and then Det. 2 deployed in the summer of 2018, with the final members of the company returning January 2019.
"We have one of the most diverse units in theater, our teams operated in 9 Mortuary Affairs collection points, in seven different countries, to include Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and our headquarters in Kuwait," Capt. Ruth Fa'atiga, 962nd company commander said. "They were given great responsibility and accomplished the mission with dignity and respect. "
The Soldiers and Families of the 962nd attended two days of Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Training prior to the ceremony. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a Department of Defense-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and their communities, by connecting them with resources before, during and after deployments, integrating essential information and services needed.
"It's a proud privilege to be a Soldier. A good Soldier with discipline, self respect, pride in your unit and with a high sense of duty, obligation to comrades and a self confidence born of demonstrated ability," Col Harry Hudick, Commander, 658th Regional Support Group, said. "When you go over into a combat zone, there is no greater task that we ask of you, so that speaks to the pride and sense of duty, you clearly all have it."
The ceremony was presided over by Hudick, 658th RSC Command Sgt. Maj. Jaybee Obusan, Lt. Col. Michele Cook, 302nd Transportation Terminal Battalion Commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Cox, 302nd TTB senior enlisted leader.
"You were spread out over seven countries, executing a mission where you not only met the standards expected but exceeded the standards." Hudick said. "You have an obligation to comrades, "Take care of each other, as long as it takes."
Reintegration during post-deployment time is often critical for members of the National Guard and Reserve, as they often live far from military installations and other member of their units.
"This chapter that you just experienced will forever be a part of your life," Cook said. "You made tough decisions in under enormous pressure in places that were very austere and have endured trials and tribulations."
"Look to your left and to your right, these Soldiers are your Battle Buddies... it is an enduring friendship and partnership for the rest of your lives," she said. "I charge each of you to take this experience that you have learned, back to your homes, back to your families, and most of all, back to yourself."
During the deployment, collectively Det. 2 processed a total of 47 cases to include U.S. Soldiers, coalition forces and local nationals, in addition the team led mass casualty training events, facilitated evacuation and recovery team training and much more.
"Each of these men and women answered the call from their country in a time of war and they did it with distinction," Fa'atiga said. "These men and women overcame every hurdle and surmounted every obstacle to deliver on this nation's promise of exceptional dignity, respect and reverence,, and I say thank you not only for those who gave this sacrifice, but also to the families who have born that sacrifice as well."
"Thank you for all your hard work, the time you put into this unit and your dedication," Fa'atiga said. "It has been an amazing journey, and to each and every one of you, welcome home."