By Staff Sgt. Kelvin RingoldDecember 21, 2012
Fort Huachuca, AZ. - The doors to Hangar 3 at Libby Army Airfield lay open allowing the large, American flag hanging from the ceiling to wave freely in the breeze. Soldiers and community figures alike wait patiently while staring off into the horizon. They catch a glimpse of a plane getting closer as it nears the staging area and know that the time has finally come for their colleagues, loved ones and friends to return home.
The holiday season is a time that gives people the opportunity to be surrounded by their family members, loved ones or close friends. Unfortunately, mission does not always allow this to be a possibility in the military. Many service members end up spending their holidays in a foreign place defending the rights and freedoms of the people here and abroad. This year, however, the Soldiers of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, or HHC, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, will not be among them.
Soldiers from HHC, 11th TTSB returned home from an 11-month deployment in Afghanistan Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. The unit was led by Col. Patrick Dedham, commander, 11th TTSB and Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Allen.
As the Soldiers landed at Libby Airfield and the plane's doors opened, the runway was lined with flags held by members of the American Legion Freedom Riders. The service members were greeted by senior leadership from 11th TTSB, the installation, the Sierra Vista community and many other people wishing to welcome these Soldiers home and away from harm.
"While serving with Task Force Signal in Afghanistan for nine months and returning to be the rear provisional command sergeant major, I know first-hand the great things accomplished by this team," said Command Sgt. Maj. David Archuleta, rear provisional command sergeant major, 11th TTSB.
With everything the Soldiers accomplished while in Afghanistan, being able to return home before the holidays feels like an added bonus for them.
"I'm glad to be home with my family for the holidays," said Capt. Mitzu Delos Santos, 11th TTSB. "It is a well deserved treat for the troops for a job well done."
Brig. Gen. Dean Milner, the Canadian deputy commander of Fort Hood, Texas, and III Corps, was the guest speaker once the Soldiers arrived at Fort Huachuca's Murr Community Center, and shared the same sentiment about the Soldiers' early return.
"To be honest I call it an early Christmas present," said Milner.
"It is great to have the team back on Fort Huachuca with Family and friends just in time for the holidays," said Archuleta
With the holiday season right around the corner, these Thunderbirds returned home. They accomplished a lot while deployed, and with the help of the Fort Huachuca community and their loved ones, they were able to complete the mission and be home for one of the most important times of the year.
"It is the Families' sacrifice, support and dedication behind the scenes that not only made today's homecoming extra special but also made it possible for these great Soldiers to go forth and do our nation's bidding," said Donaldson. "Thank you."