FORT HOOD, Texas - The excitement level boiled over at the Kieschnick physical fitness center as hundreds of family members and friends watched their Soldiers exit the airplane at Robert Gray Army Airfield May 14.
The returning 1st Medical Brigade Soldiers touched down just after sunset. An anxious crowd, on the other side of Fort Hood, watched the troops march off the plane thanks to a live video feed that broadcasted the event on a large screen inside the gym.
"This redeployment ceremony was kind of a first for us because we were able to use the live video feed so families could see their Soldiers get off the plane," said Lt. Col. James L. Waddick, the brigade's executive officer. "That was really neat to watch and the families loved it."
It took another hour before the Soldiers were face-to-face with their loved ones. In all, the Silver Knight Brigade returned 97 Soldiers in the welcome-home ceremony. It marked the redeployment of the brigade headquarters from an 11-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
"They were the medical brigade, task force headquarters for Multi-National Corps Iraq which became U.S. Forces Iraq at the beginning of this year," said Waddick. "They provided command and control and directed health service-support operations in theater."
Col. Ronal Kirklin, the commander of the 4th Sustainment Brigade helped welcome home the Silver Knights to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"Thank you to the families and friends of the 1st Medical Brigade for your patience, support, and sacrifice," said Kirklin. "You played a significant role so your unit could accomplish its mission."
During their tour of duty, the Silver Knights operated at the Victory Base Complex surrounding the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.
"The Silver Knights accounted for a 98% survival rate of trauma casualties," said Kirklin. "That was aided by 85% of trauma patients being medically evacuated by air for surgery within one hour - which is known as the golden hour."
"They also conducted more than 1,200 general and orthopedic surgeries," said Kirklin. "And the 1st Medical Brigade admitted more than 2,470 patients to level-three medical treatment facilities."
"There was no easy task for the 1st Medical Brigade in Iraq, but there was also no task too tough," he said.