FORT BRAGG, NC, UNITED STATES
By Sgt. Susan Blair
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Officer
FORT BRAGG, N.C.— The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, finished returning to Fort Bragg on March 23 after spending 15 months in Baghdad. The flights of Paratroopers began returning on March 12.
Led by Col. B. Don Farris, the 2nd BCT Commander, the Falcon Brigade entered Baghdad as the lead "Surge" brigade, after President George W. Bush announced his plan to add 20,000 more American troops to Baghdad and the Anbar province.
During the Falcons time in Iraq, the Paratroopers helped provide security and stability to the areas of Baghdad that insurgents had a stronghold on. The Paratroopers set up combat outposts in Baghdad's Hurriya, Adhamiyah, Rusafa Districts and Sadr City where they lived, patrolled, and interacted with the Iraqi population.
"The Paratroopers established two of the first combat outposts in Baghdad," said the Multi-National Division Baghdad commanding general, Maj. Gen Jeffrey Hammond, in January. As a result, the attacks in Adhamiyah decreased from 465 to 15 per month since December 2006, said Hammond.
"You were called up during your Christmas break, and a few weeks later you were on a plane to Iraq," said Col. Stephen Lyons, the Task Force All-American rear-detachment commander, stated in a redeployment speech for earlier returning troopers.
For the families who had a Paratrooper returning home, it meant that they were now able sleep easier at night.
"It's indescribable to have him come home. I'm able to breathe again," said Pam Baker of her son Spc. Hunter Owen, a Paratrooper in the 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, just before his flight came in on March 19. "I slept for the first night since he's been gone, when he got to Kuwait."
"I never knew what peace of mind was until I heard he was coming home," added Richard Baker, Owens' stepfather.
As for the Paratroopers who had a child born while they were away, it meant that they were now able to pick up and hold their baby for the first time.
Pfc. Bryan Kennedy, a Paratrooper in the 407th Forward Support Battalion, held his two-month-old daughter, Elizabeth Cierra, for the first time on March 19.
"It feels really great to hold her," Kennedy said after picking up his daughter.
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This work, Lead Surge Brigade Returns to Fort Bragg, by PFC Susan Blair, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.