News: Hoosier Citizen-Soldiers return from Iraqi deployment
Story by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry
By Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry
Indiana National Guard
INDIANAPOLIS - Just minutes past midnight a knock echoed through a Stout Field hangar.
Friends and family members yelled, cheered and applauded as the hangar door opened to reveal nearly 145 Hoosier Citizen-Soldiers with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team marching into a hero's welcome.
"It's so exciting he's back," said Laura St. Clair of her brother, Spc. Kevin St. Clair. "I'm glad he's home, and I'm glad he's OK." The St. Clairs are from Brookville, and Kevin is with Troop B, 1st Battalion, 152nd Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron. Nearly 120 of the returning Soldiers are with Troop B, and the other Soldiers are with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry Regiment.
While in Iraq Troop B Soldiers conducted patrols, upgraded weapons systems, transported more than 1,255,000 gallons of fuel and 125,000 tons of materials and supplies while collectively traveling more than 300,000 miles.
Soldiers with the Headquarters Company ran an operations center, and planned, coordinated and tracked logistics patrols across the theater.
"We did a lot of good things for Iraq and the U.S.," said Staff Sgt. Corey Bryant a section leader with Troop B. "We secured the commodities as they traveled around Iraq so coalition forces could sustain the mission," said Bryant of Mooresville, Ind.
Prior to the Soldiers arriving, many friends and family members waited anxiously. Though plenty of seats were available, many stood holding signs, and children ran in the open expanse. Some quietly communicated via text messages with their Soldiers who were just a few miles away at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Some others were more vocal. "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" chanted one little girl sitting on her grandmother's shoulders.
The Soldiers were also happy to be back in the heartland.
"It's better than TQ [Al Taqaddum Airbase]," said Staff Sgt. David Hill of Clay City, Ind. "Because [Indiana] is home."
Hill was also happy to be among his civilian family again too.
"You're a family over there," said Hill about his fellow Soldiers and the camaraderie they develop in a war-time deployment. "But it doesn't beat the family here with the support of the wife and kids." Hill and his wife, Braiden, have five children.
In the fairy tale, Cinderella couldn't stay out past midnight. For these Soldiers it was just past 1 a.m. when their pumpkins, white buses, carried them off to Camp Atterbury. The brigade Soldiers will complete briefings, screenings, and evaluations. Then it's home and back to civilian life.