By Sgt. Alun Thomas, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsApril 20, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - As volcanic ash from Iceland left air travelers all over the world stranded, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade command team successfully navigated the crisis to return home from Iraq and uncase the unit colors at Cooper Field, April 19.
The brigade had been thwarted by the volcano, causing numerous flight delays, as the 1st ACB sought to return all its Soldiers home, following a year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In front of Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, from Berwick, Maine., commander, 1st Cavalry Division, and hundreds of cheering spectators, Col. Douglas Gabram, from Cleveland, commander, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., unraveled the brigade's colors, and said it was a relief to return.
"It's great to be back ... it was a long trip because of the volcano issues and we got caught up in that, so we had a 24 to 48 hour delay," Gabram said. "Everybody knew they were heading (home) so they took it well and we're here."
Any frustration from the delay disappeared once the plane landed and the Soldiers on the flight headed to Cooper Field, Gabram said.
"For most of our Soldiers this is their second, third or even fourth deployment, so the expectations were realistic and everyone was fired up when the plane landed," Gabram said. "There was a lot of clapping and happy faces."
Gabram said the happy faces were well earned, after a successful deployment which the 1st ACB performed above expectations.
"The deployment went great ... the team flew over 68,000 hours and we bought all our aircraft and air crew members home safely," he continued. "We were fortunate to work with two division headquarters, 12 (brigade combat teams) on the ground and also form a special relationship with the Iraqi Air Force, which was a first."
"It was a great step forward on the partnership level," Gabram said.
The flight delay didn't dampen the spirits of Christine Holder, who said she traveled to Fort Hood from Charlotte, N.C., to welcome her boyfriend, Capt. Logan Cloaninger of the 1st ACB.
"As long as he gets home safe I don't care how long it takes," Holder said prior to Cloaninger's arrival. "I tried not to watch the news and waited for him to call me instead. It was a little aggravating for sure, but I had plenty of support from family while I waited."
Knowing she would be welcoming Cloaninger back is something Holder said she could hardly put into words.
"It makes me tear up thinking about it; I'm so excited to see him," she said. "This was his first deployment and even though I have to go back to Charlotte and say goodbye to him soon, I'm not thinking about that right now."
"I'm just concerned with him coming home along with the rest of the heroes," Holder said.