Sgt. Andrew Shaffer waited 15 months for Tuesday to arrive as he held his nine-month-old daughter, Ruby, for the first time.
Sgt. Shaffer and 20 other Soldiers from the 171st Movement Control Company from the 916th Support Brigade at Fort Irwin returned home after a 15-month deployment to Iraq as their Families, fellow Soldiers and Fort Irwin/National Training Center Commanding General Brig. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams welcomed them back to Fort Irwin during an early morning ceremony at the Freedom Gym.
"Great job. You have a lot to be proud of," Brig. Gen. Abrams told the returning Soldiers. "All of us and the nation are glad to have you back, and wish you the very best."
After Brig. Gen. Abrams quickly welcomed the company back, Sgt. Shaffer finally got his wish as his wife, Kimberly, rushed across the gym to hug him with Ruby in her arms.
"It's great. This is what I've been waiting for," Sgt. Shaffer said as he held his daughter in his arms.
Mrs. Shaffer said she couldn't wait for her husband to finally return home after the 15-month deployment.
"I've been OK," Mrs. Shaffer said. "I've just been waiting for her to see her dad."
Margaret Mayer also brought her daughter, 19-month-old, Reagan, to see her husband, Spc. Lee Mayer return as she nervously waited for the homecoming ceremony to begin.
"It's great," Mrs. Mayer said. "I finally get to have him home, finally."
With his daughter in his arms, Spc. Mayer said it was great to see his daughter again as she was only four-and-a-half months-old when he deployed.
"It's great, but sleep is all I want right now," he said.
As Diana Clavijo waited for her husband, Staff Sgt. Carlo Clavijo, she carried handmade candy leis for all the returning Soldiers.
"Fifteen months has been so long," Mrs. Clavijo said. "I'm excited, because I don't have any Family here, and he's the only Family I have."
As his Soldiers embraced their Family and friends, 171st Company Commander Capt. Shanon Woods explained his Soldiers' mission during their 15 months in Iraq.
"We were the Movement Control Team in the central area in Baghdad," Capt. Woods said. "Everything going north and south, east and west were tracked by us."
Whether it was Class 1 or Class 9 materials or everything in between, the company kept track of cargo and also coordinated medical evacuation operations with Sheriff 15, he said.
"It's great to be home and I'm looking forward to spending time with my Family," Capt. Woods said.