FORT HOOD, AL, UNITED STATES
FORT HOOD, Texas - Each year, millions of Americans take time during Memorial Day to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
This year, soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, commemorated Memorial Day in their own special way, uncasing the brigade's colors at Cooper Field, May 28.
The uncasing of the colors officially marks the brigade's return to Fort Hood, following a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Col. John Novalis, from Williamsport, Pa., the brigade commander, said a wide range of emotions ran through his mind as he walked across the parade field.
"It's amazing to see all of the patriots in the Fort Hood area who are here today to welcome our brigade home," said Novalis.
"Walking across the field on this day and knowing that our soldiers did a great job while supporting our nation's goals and objectives...it's pretty neat," he added.
Novalis said the past year in Afghanistan was unique and challenging, but that the brigade's Soldiers executed their mission to standard.
As the commander and his troops marched across the parade field, the atmosphere was electric as joyous family members anxiously awaited the opportunity to embrace their loved ones. Children jumped up and down in anticipation while others held up banners that read, "welcome home daddy."
Once the colors were uncased, Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the division commander, dismissed the formation. Within seconds, hugs, kisses and tears were abundant as soldiers were finally reunited with their family members.
Kathy Vela, the spouse of the brigade's senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, said the event was an emotional experience for everyone involved.
"All I can say is that I'm filled with pride," said Mrs. Vela.
It's been a long and challenging year for all of the spouses, added Vela, who has seen her husband go off to war and return four times since 9/11.
"Obviously, we're all extremely happy that our soldiers made it home safely," she continued.
Novalis said having the ceremony on Memorial Day made sense in the end. He said it brought the true meaning of the day's significance full circle.
"Our soldiers go off to war to defend our nation's strategic needs, but not all of them make it back," he said. That's what Memorial Day is all about: honoring the fallen.
"It's because of them that our country is so great," he added.
The U.S. military is the best trained fighting force in the world, he continued. "I'm proud to be a part of it."
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This work, 1st ACB uncases colors at Fort Hood on Memorial Day, by SFC Joe Armas, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.