FORT HOOD, Texas -- Tears of joy fell on Cooper Field as the final wave of Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, returned to their Central Texas home here following a nine-month rotation to the Republic of Korea, March 7.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it takes great pleasure for me to stand on this field and show off to you the very finest America has to offer, the very engine of America's foreign policy," Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, said. "They (deployments) are never easy and this one is no exception."
Around 4,000 Greywolf Brigade troops were sent to South Korea in June and July 2019 to provide for the nation's defense. The brigade partnered with the Republic of Korea's army to train alongside one another's troops.
"What we saw was just tremendous growth across the formation, in our ability to train the individual to the collective level, across the brigade," Col. Kevin Capra, Greywolf Brigade commander, said. "It's just a great feeling coming home and knowing we did a good job. To be ready to fight, if called upon. Building interoperability within our armies and in lethality as well."
With the return of the last 218 troops, including the brigade's two senior leaders, the Greywolf Brigade colors flew once again at Fort Hood. Capra was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan McLane, the brigade's senior enlisted advisor, to unfurl the unit's red and gold colors. Traditionally, the unit colors follow the commander. The colors are cased and uncased during deployment and then redeployment, signifying the unit's return.
With the sound of "Charge!" families ran to their Soldiers, embracing after nine months apart.
Chelly Fessler, wife of Spc. Jose Nevaro, said she kept herself busy during the long nine months by staying with family and traveling. Nevaro said technology definitely made the rotation easier because he was able to see his family.
Sgt. Josue Betancourt agreed that modern technology helped him and his wife stay in touch during the nine months away from Texas.
"Just talking to my wife," Betancourt said about his wife Katy. "She always sent me pictures and videos. I like that kind of support."
After reuniting Saturday, the Soldiers were given time off to spend with their families over the next few weeks. Spouses and children helped their Soldiers carry the military gear to their cars, walking hand-in-hand to enjoy a much-needed break. Capra said reunions are always great to experience, but also great to witness.
"This has been my third time redeploying with 1st Cavalry Division across Cooper Field and every time it's unique and a great experience," Capra said. "The best part about coming home is just the joy you see in the faces, not only in your own family, but those of your Soldiers and families as well."