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    Texas Army National Guard Spouses Welcome Unit Home In Fort Bliss

    Texas Army National Guard Spouses Welcome Unit Home In Fort Bliss

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright | (Left) Sarah Boykin, of Meryville, La., and (right) Erica Justice, of Port Neches,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Melissa Bright 

    72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (36th ID, TXARNG)

    FORT BLISS, Texas - It was hard to miss the two women in shorts and tank-tops standing by the entrance of the Biggs Air Field Terminal on Fort Bliss, El Paso, as they watched the recently deployed Bravo Battery of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, out of Port Arthur, Texas, file across the tarmac after a twenty-hour flight bringing them back from Iraq on the morning of July 17.

    In fact, the amount of skin showing and the bright, happy colors of the clothing the women wore were in such a contrast to the bland grey concrete of the runway, the reddish brown brick of the building behind them, and the military uniforms that surrounded them, that the loud shouting being done by the two ladies was almost completely unnecessary to get their respective spouses attention.

    Sarah Boykin, of Meryville, La., and Erica Justice, of Port Neches, Texas, drove to Fort Bliss to welcome their husbands back from deployment. The two women were determined to not allow anything to keep them from being there the minute Bravo Btry. touched ground.

    The two women, who met at a unit family readiness group meeting over a year ago and kept up a friendship throughout the deployment, drove more than 900 miles to reach Fort Bliss in time.

    "I haven't missed any of the last 13 home-comings," said Sarah, "and I don't care how far I had to drive, I wasn't missing this one either."

    Sarah said she is used to saying goodbye to the father of her three children.

    "I have watched my husband [Spc. Tommy Boykin] leave with his unit for annual training each summer, walk out the door for the occasional hurricane mission and fly out for the first time on his initial Iraq tour four years ago."

    "This is where I belong and this is where I will be, each time, cheering him on as he walks back into my arms."

    Goodbye's may be routine for the Boykin family, but if the sheer joy on her face and tears in her eyes as Tommy walked up to give Sarah an enormous hug are any indication, getting to say 'welcome home' is anything but commonplace.

    Erica, who is married to Sgt. Jeffrey Justice, stood beside Sarah and watched as her friend greeted Tommy with a great big hug and kiss.

    "Jeffrey was in the front and he was the first to come up to the entrance so I got to see him right away. But Tommy, we didn't see him until just now; he was one of the last to walk in."

    "I am just so thankful they made it back safely and in one piece, I mean this is their second trip over there and they have all been so blessed to come back whole," said Erica as she reflected on how wonderful it was to have the unit come back without anyone hurt."

    Capt. Brian Hildebrand, First Sgt. Jeffrey Hancock and the Soldiers of Bravo Btry., 1-133rd FA, flew into Fort Bliss in order to complete six days of administrative, medical and other out-processing activities required for release from active duty following their deployment.

    The unit is scheduled to return to their home-station armory in Port Arthur for a welcome home celebration later this week.

    Before the two men could do more than give a quick kiss hello to their wives, they were directed inside a large open building for the Mobilization and Demobilization Brigade to receive the first briefing of their six day stay on Fort Bliss.

    Once a quick welcome back speech was delivered by Brig. Gen. William Smith, deputy commander of Maneuver, 36th Infantry Division, Col. James Green, MaD Brigade commander, entreated all the Soldiers to remain patient while they finalize their out-processing and complete their mission by returning home safely to their families.

    Afterwards, the unit was released to eat and the two women practically pounced on their spouses .

    Throughout the meal, the couples frequently exchanged secretive and happy smiles, cell phone photos were brandished about like swords, and fingers maintained constant contact.

    All this was going on while the women kept up a steady stream of informal updates on how the family back home was doing; what amenities their hotel rooms had; and, like all couples separated for any length of time, what the plans were for when they got back to those rooms.

    Justice, listened intently as Erica talked about their young son, Mason, and what he was doing that day with his parents; occasionally he asked a question or two but for the most part he just watched his wife.

    After she finished, Sgt. Justice smiled and acknowledged how her bright pink top stood-out so well outside, "Yep, she was just showing me what I missed over the last year and I definitely missed it."

    While in Iraq, B Btry., 1-133rd FA participated in detainee facility operations and successfully manned several security force teams while being based in Camp Taji, Camp Korean Village, Al Asad Air Base and Ramadi Air Base.

    Both wives had pretty much the same thought when asked what the day had meant to them.

    "I am just so happy they made it back, and now, I can finally have him back home, safe with me," said Sarah.



    Date Taken: 07.17.2010
    Date Posted: 07.19.2010 21:21
    Story ID: 53075
    Location: FORT BLISS, TX, US

    Web Views: 518
    Downloads: 125