By Sgt. Sarah EnosMarch 12, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (March 12, 2013) -- In the dark, early morning hours, almost 100 Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Sustainment Brigade, returned home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., March 9.
While deployed to Afghanistan the company was the first to support the U.S. Central Command Material Recovery Element, comprised of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Department of Defense civilians and contractors.
Their nine-month mission was to help with the drawdown of troops and the strategic recovery of excess materiel from around the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan, after more than a decade of war.
For Staff Sgt. Brittany Brinker, paralegal specialist, the deployment was her first.
"I have nothing to compare it to, but I would say it was a neat experience to be apart of the base closure process and move equipment out of Afghanistan," Brinker said. "It's a work in progress and we were the first ones who started it off right."
Among the select few who stood on the flight line to shake the hands of Soldiers as they got off the plane were Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander, I Corps, Canadian Army Brig. Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, I Corps deputy commanding general of sustainment, and the city of Sumner mayor, David Enslow.
After the Soldiers turned in their weapons, they were brought by bus from McChord Airfield to the Wilson Sports and Fitness Center on JBLM and formed up behind a large curtain that divided them from their family and friends.
While waiting for the redeployment ceremony to begin, Staff Sgt. Khadijah Garner, operations noncommissioned officer, reflected on the nine-month deployment and said that not being able to hug her husband, James, and 5-year-old daughter, Kayleh, made the deployment difficult for her.
Finally, the curtain rose. The crowd stood up to cheer as the Soldiers were revealed.
The unit remained in formation as Command Sgt. Maj. Eric L. Taylor and Col. Douglas M. McBride Jr. uncased the unit's colors to officially mark their return.
Following a short welcome home speech the Soldiers were dismissed and reunited with their loved ones.
Charity Rivera wrapped her arms around her husband, 1st Lt. Joel Rivera, operations officer, and gave him a long-awaited smooch on the lips.
After greeting her family, Garner said she is looking forward to a hot shower with no shower shoes and sleeping in her own bed.
"I remember being in this same gym, leaving really sad and now it's the complete opposite," Garner said.