By Capt. Thomas P. WardMay 12, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The wait by eager family members and sleepy-eyed children was finally rewarded after 43 Soldiers marched into the Army Community Service building here late May 4.
The Soldiers belong to the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion, which began its redeployment from Camp Cropper, Iraq, April 28. One of only two active-duty interrogation battalions in the Army, the 14th had deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 10 months ago.
The 14th is conducting a phased redeployment from Iraq in compliance with the Responsible Drawdown, directed by the president of the United States. In March, the first contingent from the battalion redeployed as part of that drawdown and to support pre-deployment training of the 2nd MI Battalion, which will replace the 14th.
The latest contingent arrived in San Antonio at Kelly Air Field before boarding a bus for Fort Sam Houston. After completing a few administrative tasks and turning in their weapons, the Soldiers met the enthusiastic greeting from their families and fellow members of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade.
The brigade commander, Col. Jim Lee, welcomed the Soldiers on behalf of the brigade and Maj. Gen. Mary Legere, commander of Intelligence and Security Command, and Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, commander of Army South.
"Your year away from home was well spent and saved the lives of Soldiers and civilians alike through your hard work and enduring dedication," said Lee. "Now that you are home ... take time to bask in the glow of the gratitude of your nation and your family."
Diversions of the airline flight home caused the return to take longer than expected.
"It was a very long trip and took almost three days, but boy am I happy to be back!" said 1st Sgt. Brandon Washington, who noted that everyone returned safely.
The Soldiers got some leave, which most of them planned to spend with their families.
Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Green looked forward to being with his wife and six children, the youngest of whom is barely six weeks old.
"I got to come home to see him born, but then I went back," Green explained. It was his first deployment to Iraq with the 14th MI Battalion but his third overseas.
For other Soldiers, such as 1st Lt. Pauline Edwards and Spc. Felix Contreras, who were assigned to the 14th MI Battalion only shortly before its deployment, it was their first time in Iraq.
While these Soldiers reintegrate with their families and Fort Sam Houston, the third and final contingent of 14th MI Battalion Soldiers continues to provide intelligence support to U.S. forces in Iraq. The battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Greg Meyer, who likewise remains in Iraq, said "While it is tough to see the team redeploy in phases, everyone, Soldiers and Families alike, has done and continues to do a great job, both here in Iraq and back at Fort Sam Houston."
(Gregory Ripps, 470th MI Brigade Public Affairs Officer, contributed to this story.)