By Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson, 41st Fires Brigade, PAONovember 8, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas--Just shy of a year-long deployment in Iraq, the Warhorse Soldiers made their final stop at Fort Hood and rightfully saying "mission complete." The Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division were greeted by spouses, children, parents, close friends, and significant others during a welcome home ceremony held for the unit on Cooper Field, Nov. 2.
The excitement and anticipation could be felt out at Cooper Field as families reunited with one another after months of waiting.
"It felt good to step off that plane," said Capt. Matthew Oldach, Eerie, Penn. native, commander for Company B, 3rd Bat., 8th Cav. Regt., 1st Cav. Div. "I think we all have been waiting for this moment for a long time."
Although the Warhorse Soldiers' deployment may have been long, it ended with the Iraqi forces patrolling their own streets.
"We left Maysan province better off than before we got there," said Maj. Steven Gventer, San Antonio native, operations officers for 3rd Bat., 8th Cav. Regt., 1st Cav. Div. "Our overall mission was to assume the Maysan province and conduct stability operations."
Halfway through the unit's deployment, they had to concentrate on the draw-down.
"The draw down became a significant event during the deployment," said Gventer. "While we conducted various operations, we were shipping equipment out of COS Gary Owens. As equipment rolled out, we still had to operate at a 100 percent. But during that time, we assisted the 10th Iraqi Army in catching several high-valued individuals."
As the Iraqi forces conducted more of their own operations, this allowed the Warhorse Soldiers and command to focus more on redeploying.
"The Iraqi forces learned fast and a lot of them were eager to hit the streets," said Oldach. "Maysans province was good-to-go. I feel confident that we left the province in good hands."
Knowing that Maysan province was secured, the Warhorse Soldiers were grateful to finish another chapter in the unit's history, making their reunion ceremony just a little more enjoyable.
"This was my first deployment and I thought it [the deployment] went by fast," said Pfc. Justin Calbert, San Antonio native, scout for 3rd Bat., 8th Regt., 1st Cav. Div. "But coming home was even better. I can't even explain how it felt to form up behind those busses and march onto the field. As everyone begins to count down, you just hold your breath, waiting for zero. After that, you get lost in the crowd and emotions hoping to find your loved ones."
While this group of Warhorse Soldiers begin their reintegration process, the command will continue to work on bringing everyone else home before the beginning of the new year.