By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsMarch 5, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - Since Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Timmons came back home from Iraq in January, he and his wife, who have only been married a few years, haven't had too much "alone" time ... well at least a night without her young daughter.
So, when the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's Family Readiness Group threw a "no children" party at the Killeen Civic Center March 1, they both got dressed up and were excited to finally get out for the first time since his return.
"I think [this party] was nice to do," said Marie Timmons, of San Antonio. "I wanted to come here because it was a time I could finally come out to say thank you."
According to Felicia Grissett, the HHC, 2BCT FRG leader, saying "thank you" through the welcome back party was really all they wanted to do too as well.
"We wanted to give mom and dad a day away from the kids, not to pay for anything, and come out and have a good time," Grissett said. "It was good to do something of this magnitude because other FRGs weren't able to do one like this."
Grissett said the FRG started planning for their welcome back party around last May - six months from the brigade's original redeployment date. They raised money through selling throw blankets; however, a lot of private donations were made by Soldiers' parents.
"The parents of single soldiers were awesome," she said. "Staff Sgt. (Jody) Chason's parents came in from Houston almost every meeting. Sgt. (Joel) Thalken's mom kept in constant contact with us."
During the party, Capt. Lexie R. Gibbs III, commander of HHC, 2BCT, took time to thank Grissett and Trudie Smith for their work throughout the deployment.
"[The FRG] took a hard thing and made it easy," said Gibbs, who hails from Jackson, Ky. "The appearance was like a professional FRG when it was just volunteers. I just want to personally thank the FRG and Mrs. Grissett and Mrs. Smith for making us feel so welcome in coming home."
For Grissett, who is an Army brat from Killeen, volunteered to take over as the FRG leader before the company deployed in October 2006. Back then, she decided to take on the responsibility as the leader because she said she had the experience of dealing with deployments. Even with three young children, she accomplished a lot, according to Gibbs.
Grissett said she could not have done her job throughout the deployment without Smith's constant help.
"When I couldn't do something, I'd call her and she'd do it," she said about the Carlsbad, N.M., native. "I had a great co-leader; we worked side-by-side. If Trudie hadn't been there, I don't know how I would have made it."
During the party, Grissett officially stepped down as the FRG leader.
"I'm stepping down," she said with a smile. "It's been a long deployment, and I need to focus on my family."
And for Marie and Johnny Timmons, who became homeowners during the deployment, it's also a time to focus on their family and household.
"It was upsetting because he missed Christmas ... I didn't even put up a Christmas tree (while he was gone)," she said sadly. "Hopefully, we can put one up together this year."