By Spc. Gaelen Lowers, 3rd Sustainment Bde., 3rd IDJuly 16, 2009
FORT STEWART, GA-- After 15 months, the Soldiers from the 549th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, returned from their Afghanistan deployment to the open arms of their friends and Families.
More than 130 Soldiers marched across Cottrell Field, July 12 after conducting MP missions across four provinces in Afghanistan in support of the war effort.
"We were the first MP company to switch over to a full training routine," said Capt. Raymond Cloud, commander of 549th MP Co. "We worked in four different provinces, working at the team and squad level, working independently from the company. We stood up the MP mentoring mission across the board, fully MP-run, which is the first of its kind in Afghanistan."
The Soldiers received a special welcome from one of their own. Sergeant Garry Thompson of the 549th MP Co. greeted each Soldier as they stepped from the aircraft at Hunter Army Airfield.
Sgt. Thompson was critically wounded during an insurgent attack on their position. He was paralyzed from the waist down but vowed to take his first steps when the unit returned.
The friends and Families of the incoming Soldiers waved banners and screamed as the buses made their way down Gulick Ave. When told to go cross the field and greet their Soldier, many sprinted, shoes off, across the field into the waiting arms of their loved ones. One such individual could not hold back her tears of jubilation.
"Seeing him was pure joy," said Dana Garrell, wife of Sgt. Joshua Garrell. She added that for the next few months, letting him out of her sight would be out of the question.
During the welcome home ceremony at Cottrell Field, both Sgt. Garrell and Sgt. Paul Roberts, another wounded Soldier assigned to the 549th MP Co., joined the company in formation to sing the Marne and Army songs.
The ceremony was over just as quickly as it began. Soldiers departed with their friends and loved ones to take part in some much deserved rest and relaxation.