News: More home from Afghan deployment
Story by Spc. Reese Von Rogatsz
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Raider families and friends welcomed back 269 soldiers from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, who returned home after an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, June 30.
A roar of motorcycle engines announced the arrival of returning Raiders to the crowd gathered for the homecoming ceremony at Soldiers Field House, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as members from a local chapter of the Brothers-In-Arms Motorcycle Club escorted returning troops to their destination in a show of support.
“It’s veterans helping veterans and taking care of our own,” said Jeff Slotnick, treasurer and unofficial spokesman for the group. The club, in its eleventh year of existence, is open to military veterans with an honorable discharge and active-duty members of all five services – those able to ride a motorcycle with a 600 cc or bigger engine, added Slotnick with a grin.
Riders from the motorcade lined the track and raised their hands in salute to the procession, as troops marched in formation and entered the gym to the now familiar sound of cheering and applause.
“On behalf of all your loved ones here and the chain of command, we want you to know how proud we are of you. Welcome home!” said Lt. Col. Jody Miller, commander of the Raider Ready Reserve, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., after the playing of the national anthem.
“Please be safe as you celebrate the birth of our great nation and honor your service and sacrifice. Family members, they’re all yours!” said Miller, concluding the ceremony.
The returning Raiders were part of Combined Task Force 4-2, which is responsible for providing security force assistance as Afghan National Security Forces conduct wide-area security operations. The CTF 4-2 also provides support to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as it strengthens governance efforts to neutralize threats to stability, retain and expand security gains and facilitate transition to follow-on forces.
The early redeployment of soldiers is part of an overall plan to withdraw 34,000 service members by February 2014, as announced by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. As the Afghan National Security Forces increasingly take the lead for the security of their country, military personnel, including soldiers from 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. will re-deploy back to JBLM in the coming months.