News: ‘Thunder’ soldiers begin returning home
Story by Spc. April York
HERAT, Afghanistan – Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are transitioning more of Herat rovince to Afghan authorities and redeploying some of their soldiers, halfway through deployment, back to Fort Carson, Colo.
Soldiers with 3rd Bn., 16th FA Reg., deployed to Afghanistan in May in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and will be returning in December.
During their time in country they have aided their Afghan National Army and Afghan Uniformed Police counterparts in training to increase stability and security throughout their area of operations. They conducted humanitarian aid projects, patrols and combat out post defense.
The early return home for some Thunder soldiers is part of President Obama’s plan to remove 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
Approximately half of the soldiers assigned to 3rd Bn., 16th FA Reg. will be heading home. In preparation for the redeployment soldiers have been turning in equipment and mentally preparing themselves to return home.
A chance to return home is a great opportunity for many soldiers.
“I was feeling pretty good when they told me I was going home, because my wife just had our son about a month ago,” said Staff Sgt. Harold Steed, mayor of Forward Operating Base Todd and Battery B, headquarters platoon sergeant. “I am really looking forward to spending time with my family and getting to know my son for the first time.”
For others going back home is bittersweet.
“I had mixed feelings about going home,” said 1st Lt. Mario Nino, a battalion battle captain. “This is my first deployment so I just wanted to have a full year to soak up what it is to be on deployment.”
Nino was responsible for managing and coordinating assets for the battalion.
“I served as a liaison between the batteries and the battalion level,” he said. “There was never a boring day or a dull moment.”
There are always two sides to every coin, though.
“I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends,” he said. “And I’m sure they will be happy to have me home as well.”
As soldiers boarded the flight back home, Lt. Col. Thomas Munsey, battalion commander and battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Delmer Traylor shook their hands and wished them a happy holidays and a safe return.
“Have a merry Christmas and just being in the United States is Christmas enough after some of the conditions and places you guys have lived in,” Munsey said. “Be proud of yourselves, but more important take care of yourselves and each other when you get back there.”