News: Two flights bring home nearly 500 4th SBCT Soldiers from Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Amanda Newport stood among cheering military families as a group of soldiers marched into Soldiers Field House. Once she heard the word “released,” Newport navigated her way through the sea of reunions to find her boyfriend, Sgt. Caleb Olson.
Olson, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, was on one of two flights carrying a total of approximately 500 soldiers of 4th SBCT that landed July 18 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The soldiers deployed to southern Kandahar, Afghanistan, for nine months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where they advised and assisted the Afghan National Security Forces.
Newport flew from California to be there for the couple’s first redeployment ceremony together, she said.
“I just felt like it’s a very important moment to be there … and I haven’t seen him in over a year,” Newport said.
In the nine months he was deployed to Afghanistan, Olson worked in the brigade’s tactical operations center (TOC) and performed a myriad of duties.
“I learned a lot more about my (military occupational specialty),” said Olson “I became more confident in myself and confident in my job.”
Though work days were long, Olson would make time to talk to Newport.
Olson said that while Newport understands that work has to come first, it is important to ensure she knows how much she means to him.
“Do I absolutely have to go to the gym, or do I take a night off just to make my girl feel special?” Olson explained.
In Olson’s absence, Newport said she tried to find things to fill her time so she would not focus on the fact that he was gone.
“I joined CrossFit because it kept my mind off things,” she said. “I tried to have as little down time as possible because that’s where it gets you thinking.”
She said things that helped her through Olson’s deployment were having a supportive family near her and being able to video chat with Olson.
Newport was Olson’s support and did not add an extra stress to him while he was deployed, he said.
“I’ve found a good girl, one who stood by me through the deployment,” said Olson.
Now that he is back in the United States, Olson said he plans to try to get a slot at the Advanced Leader Course, continue to take college classes and spend time with his girlfriend.