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    Special operations support team returns from overseas mission



    Story by Lt. Col. Kevin Hynes 

    Joint Force Headquarters - Nebraska National Guard

    During the minutes leading up to the return of seven 195th Forward Support Company (Special Operations) (Airborne) Soldiers to the North Omaha Readiness Center after a six-month deployment overseas, it almost looked as though the families might have gotten the wrong address for the evening ceremony.
    Typically, for most unit welcome homes, parking lots are filled with anxious families and friends, sometimes hours before the scheduled arrival.
    However, the families of the 195th FSC Soldiers could be forgiven for waiting up until the last 10 minutes or so to arrive in force in front of the North Omaha Readiness Center on a beautiful, crisp April 12 evening. This wasn’t their first rodeo, so to speak.
    Take Jamie Wortman, for example. Arriving at the parking lot about 15 minutes before the expected arrival of her husband with her two young children, parents and “a couple of siblings,” Jamie said in order to keep the anxiousness to a minimum, she held off arriving at the parking lot too early while also waiting to tell daughter, Reece, and son, Mack, until the last minute that their father, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Wortman, was coming home.
    “They just found out when we got here because I knew they would be all over the place if I told them sooner,” said Jamie, smiling as she watched as her two children play tag with each other and the other extended family members. “They’re very, very excited.”
    This wasn’t Jamie’s first welcome home ceremony. Like the majority of the other six family groups, their Soldiers have deployed before as members of the company’s Army Special Operations Forces Support Operation (ASPO) Team, which is responsible for providing a wide array of primarily logistical support to Joint/Combined Special Operations Forces operating around the world, but primarily in the Middle East.
    However, like several members of the team, this was the Wortmans’ first deployment as parents.
    “It was a whole different ballgame,” said Jaime about the difference between the 2011 deployment and this most recent one. “Usually, we would talk about once a week on Facetime. The kids would take the phone and walk around the house playing with him.”
    “(I had) a lot of support from family and friends and work. That made it a lot easier,” she said. “We just tried to stay busy.”
    A few minutes later, with the families now lining the sidewalk in front of the readiness center, a van bringing the Soldiers back from the Omaha airport pulled up to the curb and deposited the returning Soldiers into the arms of their awaiting loved ones.
    One of the Soldiers welcomed by a huge throng of loved ones was Sgt. 1st Class Shawn McMahan, who acted as the senior noncommissioned officer for the ASPO team. Surrounded by his family members, McMahon said the welcome homes continue to be something special.
    “This is my fourth time coming home, so I’m kind of getting used it I guess,” said McMahon laughing. “It wasn’t too bad with the technology we have today… you can visit on video, so it’s not that bad being overseas anymore… but it’s nice coming home and seeing everybody.”
    He added the seven Nebraska Soldiers provided far more significant impact than their small numbers would imply.
    “It was a very good mission,” he said. “I can say this with all of the confidence in the world: This was by far the best APSO team to date.”
    “We supported an entire region; we supported people from Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria to the Horn of Africa,” McMahon said. “We definitely had an impact. There were things that we moved that two months later, when the news came out, we were like, ‘Oh we moved that stuff.’ It was very rewarding.”
    While deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, the Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers were responsible for coordinating, monitoring and synchronizing Joint/Combined Special Operations Forces logistics requirements. What made this particular team’s impact particularly noteworthy was the fact few of the Soldiers were operating within their primary military occupational specialty.
    According to Capt. Nathan McGruder, ASPO team officer-in-charge, each of the six enlisted Soldiers worked outside of their normal military specialty. For example, Sgt. Thomas Shupe normally works as a cook. During the deployment, he served as the transportation movement specialist. Sgt. Christopher Schmid is normally a generator mechanic, however in order to deploy he “reclassified” as an ammunition supply specialist.
    “This group of individuals knocked it out of the park,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, a flawless deployment. You do not have a deployment like this… it just doesn’t happen. And this group absolutely crushed it.”
    “Not a single one of these Soldiers was deployed doing the job they are traditionally used to doing,” McGruder added a short time later. “That’s because we here at the 195th know that the MOS doesn’t matter as much as taking the best quality and qualified NCOs and going over and getting the mission done. And that’s exactly what we have done.”
    Along with the families and friends who travelled out to the North Omaha Readiness Center to welcome the Soldiers and thank them and their families for their service were a number of senior military and governmental leaders. The words of praise the Soldiers and their families received were universal.
    “From the day that you put on that uniform, you set aside your lives (to protect) the freedoms that are important. You are willing to fight for it… to put your lives on the line to protect those values and preserve them for the next generation,” said Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley.
    “You are all heroes,” Foley added, referring to the Soldiers and their families.
    “I congratulate you on a job well done,” added Brig. Gen. Kevin Lyons, Nebraska Army National Guard ground forces commander. “To the families, your support over these last months has allowed these Soldiers to do their jobs and do them well.”
    According to Sgt. Christopher Schmid, who was greeted by warm embraces from his nearly two-year-old son, Colt, and wife, Justine, the homecoming was everything he had hoped it would be.
    “I’m just relieved to see my family. I’m ready to work back in with them,” he said.
    Schmid added that he was extremely proud of the job he and his fellow Soldiers did.
    “As a team, we moved a lot of equipment to the warfighters. It’s very fulfilling knowing that we were helping the guys on the front line.”
    Greg Wortman echoed that sentiment.
    “It speaks a lot,” said Wortman about the job that the 195th FSC Soldiers did. “It speaks a lot about the Nebraska Army National Guard… I don’t know how to put it, but we’re extremely flexible.”
    Now, he added, he was simply excited to finally be home.
    “It’s hard to put it into words. It’s nice to be home.”



    Date Taken: 06.01.2017
    Date Posted: 12.14.2017 10:57
    Story ID: 258872
    Location: OMAHA, NE, US 

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