Emotional Return for Alaska-based Soldiers
Back to their families after ten months in Afghanistan
ANCHORAGE - During his speech in front of thousands, the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division shed some tears before composing himself and moving on with his speech. Colonel Morris Goins said he gets emotional when he thinks about all the special occasions with friends and family his 3,300 hundred soldiers missed during their long deployment to Afghanistan -- the sacrifices they've made over the past ten months.
This was at a ceremony where hundreds of soldiers of the brigade stood in perfect posture and snapped in and out of attention while the command ceremoniously presented the unit's flags symbolizing their return home.
Relief was evident among the spouses who watched. One young woman held her son, Rivers, while she tried to describe having her husband gone for a year. She teared up talking about how proud she was of him, "for doing something for his country."
The audience seemed filled with children. Some just weeks old when their fathers left. Several soldiers in the audience bounced toddlers who had changed a lot in just a year.
A composed 5-year-old in a black and purple jumper said she talked to her dad online while he was away. She helped her mom watch her little sister and she's happy he's back, "so we can play," she said.
Adjusting to civillian life isn't simple. One young captain said it takes some getting used to buy groceries, do laundry, drive in traffic. Those are all things they've been away from in Afghanistan.
While they were deployed, soldiers were working to train the Afghan army. They completed 500 missions in ten months. They helped with every aspect of infrastructure, even implementing a crime investigation unit.
Governor Sean Parnell and Senator Lisa Murkowski thanked the soldiers for their service. An officer on her second deployment said her last unit in Texas didn't get that kind of attention when they got back. At the end of his speech, Parnell made an appeal for service members to return to live in Alaska after they completed their service.