By Spc. Sharla Lewis, 3rd HBCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAODecember 1, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers with 1st Cavalry Division are returning to Fort Hood after a year-long deployment to the northern Iraq city of Mosul.
Homecoming ceremonies were held Nov. 25, 27 and 28 for nearly 2,000 2nd and 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldiers who arrived on flights from transition bases in Kuwait.
Families and friends of the Soldiers gathered on Cooper Field in front of the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters building to welcome their loved ones home.
Some Families traveled great distances like Dale and Sally Gehris who drove nine hours from Fair Grove, Md. to welcome home their son, Spc. Damian Gehris, a military policeman with 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
"We didn't want to miss being here today," Dale said. "We left home before we received the call about the flight and we're happy we did."
Dale wore a crisp dress shirt and Sally a corduroy blazer and held a small camera in her hand. Both stretched to see over the Families in front of them. They smiled widely as they spoke about their son and his accomplishments.
He's done things that we never thought he'd do and we're so proud of him," Sally said.
3rd BSTB specialized in detainee operations throughout the deployment. The military police in the battalion educated and trained the Iraqi Police on proper and humane detainee treatment and procedures.
Their son's flight arrived the day before Thanksgiving and the couple said the timing was perfect.
"It really is giving us a chance to reflect and be thankful our son is home," Sally said. "We wanted to be here to get one of his hugs. He's a great hugger."
Other Families didn't travel as far for the ceremonies like Nicole Lightfoot and her 11-month-old son Roy Lightfoot III who live in Killeen. Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Roy Lightfoot, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd HBCT returned Saturday.
"It's wonderful to have him home," Nicole said. "I couldn't have asked for a better holiday present."
1st Bn., 12 Cav. Regt. conducted economic, reconstruction and tactical operations throughout their deployment and Nicole said she was happy to have her husband home in one piece.
Some Soldiers arrived on Cooper Field to their luggage and a ride to the barracks, but were happy to be on American soil nonetheless.
"Yeah, it sucks a little," said Spc. Jason Caldwell, an infantryman with B Company, 3rd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., "not coming home to my wife and kids, but I'll see them soon."
Caldwell's wife and three sons were unable to travel from Oregon for his homecoming ceremony, but he will spend the duration of his Christmas leave at home with his Family.
As the ceremonies wound down, luggage was packed in vehicles and busses of Soldiers were taken to the barracks. After a year of operations in Iraq, Soldiers with 3rd Greywolf Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are coming home.