FORT WAINWRIGHT, AK, UNITED STATES
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, are returning to work after a monthlong break which followed a year of hard fighting in southern Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The period of leave was given to the soldiers to allow for rest and recuperation.
Many soldiers like, Sgt. Paul McMonigle, used the time to visit friends and family.
McMonigle, the training room non-commissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Troops Battalion, said he returned home to Pennsylvania where he enjoyed the earth rattling vibrations of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Pocono Raceway.
“I was happy to be home,” McMonigle said. “I've deployed and redeployed so many times now that it just feels like a routine. I was just happy to make it home in one piece.”
Others like Spc. Jeremiah Smith chose to enjoy a “stay-cation,” a term commonly used for staying and enjoying everything Alaska has to offer.
“Alaska was awesome,” said Smith, a cavalry scout assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. “The sun never went down, but that just meant more time to relax and hang out.”
In addition to relaxing, Smith a father of two, enjoyed the Alaska Zoo and spent some time in Anchorage.
“I had a blast … found a great little place to eat dinner,” he said. “One of the best calzones I have ever had.”
Smith said he doesn’t regret staying in Alaska for his leave and instead insisted more people should try spending their time off exploring the Last Frontier.
Regardless what the soldiers chose to do on leave, they weren’t the only ones enjoying the down time. It was also enjoyed by their loved ones.
“The reunion was wonderful … I always get the first hug, said Amy Zacherl, mother of Spc. Joseph Zacherl, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1-25th SBCT, as she described her son’s homecoming.
“As a mom, you take him all in quickly to make sure he is okay and then you hug him and hold on for dear life. I usually cry and cause a bit of a scene at the airport,” she said. “Feelings of relief, joy, and completeness come over you. Everything is right in the world again.”
It won’t take long for the soldiers to return to mission readiness as they will only have a few days to get acclimated back into their demanding routines before beginning a busy schedule of command ceremonies, field problems and situational training exercises.
For photos relating to this story see the link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/1-25_sbct/sets/72157630395038808/
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This work, Arctic Wolves return after well-deserved break, by SSG Thomas Duval, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.