FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Lorelei Coder turned 2 on Sept. 3, and she received a great present as her father Sgt. Ethan Coder celebrated it with her in person.

Ethan Coder was one of 128 B Company, 46th Engineer Battalion "Bravo Beast" Soldiers to return home from a 15-month Iraq deployment that evening. The unit completed its mission by constructing a dining and other facilities to improve the living conditions of infantry Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Ryan Peltier, another returning Soldier, said.

U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker Commander Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III was present to welcome the troops home during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

"I know you're proud of what you've accomplished. Not only are you proud of yourselves, but you're Families are proud of you ... and the nation is proud of you," he said.

Lt. Col. Shawn Prickett, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment commander, added the festive homecoming would not have been possible without the sacrifices of the Soldiers and Families.
After the ceremony's conclusion, Soldiers rushed to greet loved ones who turned out to welcome them home.

Spc. Joseph Falcon, a Harrisburg, Pa., native, tickled his year-old son, Jeremy, who burst out laughing. Falcon, who missed Jeremy's birth, said his son learned to walk and talk since he last saw him in April while home on leave. Falcon said Jeremy already knows how to say, "Dada," but noted, "It's good to hear it in person instead of over the telephone."

Family members made special plans and preparations for the Soldiers' return. Falcon's wife, Karla, and his mother, Blanca Molina, cooked some of his favorite dishes, including pasteles.

Peltier's wife, Doris, said their Family, which includes son Mark, will take a spontaneous trip and likely visit his other Family members in Louisiana.

Some Family members said the Soldiers' absence provided some emotional challenges. To cope, Doris Peltier returned home to Germany to visit her Family for a couple of months. She added raising her son helped pass the time well.

Karla Falcon relied on the unit's Family Readiness Group, which aids spouses and children during deployments. "It made it easier for us, keeping us busy and getting us out of the house," she said. "To know everyone was going through the same thing made it easier."

The Families' and Soldiers' sacrifices, though, provided many benefits. Not only did infantry Soldiers have better living facilities, but Ryan Peltier and Joseph Falcon said the deployment enhanced their careers.

Peltier said the long hours and the working conditions provided better training. "You can't ever train like that over here," he said.

Falcon, who provided security for the group and transported building materials, said the deployment forced him to accept more responsibility, which improved his leadership skills.
Both Soldiers said they learned lessons they can pass onto other Soldiers. "I will definitely talk about my experience and coach them. I'll tell them to keep a positive mind, do the job and do it well," Falcon said. Peltier added sharing his experiences will help prepare other Soldiers for deployment.

Until another deployment, the B Co., 46th Eng. Bn. Soldiers will enjoy Family outings such as birthday parties, like the Coders did last weekend.