By Michelle Butzgy/ParaglideMarch 15, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When Soldiers from the 102nd Sapper Company get home to their barracks from a nine-month deployment, they will be in for a pleasant surprise.
Instead of empty dressers, uncovered beds and clean counters, 41 'Outlaws' will find snacks, pillows, new shower curtains, toiletries and other goodies with welcome home signs hung in every room.
"They'll have a warm welcoming and lots of love when they come home," said Jackie Danielson, 102nd Sapper Co. Family Readiness Group leader and organizer of the barracks decorations.
Danielson and other members of the 102nd Sapper Co. FRG collected six pickup trucks full of donations from the USO, American Red Cross, NC Packs 4 Patriots, local churches and other organizations, she said.
Preparations for the company's return started as soon as they deployed, said Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Galmines, 102nd Sapper Co. rear detachment noncommissioned officer in charge, also known as the "go-to guy" by FRG members.
"I not only help them coordinate all their redeployment, I also keep up with any Red Cross messages that need to go downrange," he said.
Other events during the deployment on the home front included group activities, making banners, 'miss you' cards and a Christmas party.
"We try to stay in contact whether it be in person, through email, Facebook, phone calls, text messages. Just making sure everybody stayed somewhat connected," said Danielson.
FRG members said the activities helped pass the time until their loved ones were home and also created strong bonds among the group.
"So far it's been good but at least when the guys are home, they go to work all day but in the evenings, you have a break. Now we have (our children) 24/7, no breaks, so we are looking forward to him coming home," said Kayla Durstine, wife of Sgt. Jeremy Durstine. with whom she has two children, Jayden, 2, and Bryson, 1.
"I have had personal struggles through this deployment. Thankfully, I made some really good friends," said Stephanie Pfaff, wife of Staff Sgt. Gregory Pfaff. The Pfaff's have a son, Richard, 2.
After putting the final touches on the barracks decorations, the Families of the 102nd 'Outlaws' can now start counting down in hours until they see their loved ones again.