FORT CARSON, Colo. - More than 200 Soldiers from 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade returned to Fort Carson last week, after assisting a massive shift in U.S. Central Command forces.
Eighty-four Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 68th CSSB, 43rd SB, arrived from Afghanistan Nov. 2, followed by another 121 with 60th Ordnance Company from Iraq Saturday. During one-year deployments, the units supported the troop buildup in Afghanistan and drawdown in Iraq.
On both days, the Soldiers marched into standing ovations inside the Special Events Center. They filed into an extended formation in front of the state flags and the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson logos.
"Welcome home" banners, posted by a proud community, covered the walls surrounding the Soldiers. Piled up in bleachers, 50 feet away, hundreds of Family members and friends searched for familiar faces. The audience applauded, snapped photographs, waved signs, floated balloons and cried.
Immediately after the command "dismissed," the facility erupted in heartfelt reunions.
"It feels really great to have him home," said Candice Schoeneberg, standing beside husband Spc. Justin Schoeneberg, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "A friend pointed him out, and I just started bouncing around and crying - so did our son," she said.
"I just want to spend some time with my little man here and his mom," said Justin Schoeneberg, with Keith, 4, wrapped tightly around his shoulders.
He hadn't seen his Family since rest and recuperation leave in April. His wife is 32-weeks pregnant with their second child.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company deployed to Afghanistan's Helmand Province in November 2009, ahead of a 30,000-troop surge sent to defeat violent Taliban rebels and al-Qaida militants. The Soldiers drove 1.1 million miles in hostile terrain while setting up forward operating bases, according to Army reports. They hauled 75,000 tons of commodities, which included almost 3,000 tons of ammunition.
During the drawdown of forces in
Iraq, 60th Ord. transferred 4,500 tons of retrograde ammunition to frontline troops in Afghanistan. The Soldiers established the first Crash Fire Rescue team at Contingency Operating Station Gary Owen and trained Iraqi emergency services. They also helped close COS Scania.
"This is amazing," said Staff Sgt.
Ryan Rudd, 60th Ord., after reconnecting with his wife, Tarah Rudd, and son, Kacen, who celebrates his first birthday in three weeks. He said being separated from his Family was the most difficult part of the deployment.
"We're so happy to have him home," said Tarah Rudd. "There isn't a word that could explain how happy we are."