FORT HOOD, Texas — Family members and Soldiers gathered on the ready line at Fort Hood's Cooper Field, in Fort Hood, Texas, to officially welcome home 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's Soldiers during a redeployment ceremony, Monday.
The brigade's first main body flight arrived to the applause and cheers of family members and friends watching television monitors mounted in front of the 1st Cav. Div.'s headquarters.
Randy and Susan McDonald, of Mitchell, Neb., were happy to be in attendance to welcome home the troops and their son Tyler Jensen, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd HBCT, 1st Cav. Div.
"All kinds of doors were opened for us, so we know God wanted us to be here," said the McDonalds.
It's hard for any parent not to worry about their child going to war, but now the Soldiers are coming home and the families here today can be proud of them, they added.
For returning Soldiers of the brigade, the deployment's end couldn't come soon enough for Lorna Robles, of Puerto Rico.
"It's been hard raising three children alone with no family here, but everybody pulled together and we kept pushing through, and now it's great to have him home again," said Robles, wife of Sgt. Angle Robles, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd HBCT, 1st Cav. Div.
Family members cheered as six buses rolled to a stop in front of Cooper Field, loud chants of "Move that bus" reverberated throughout the area.
Col. Jeffery Sauer, 1st Cav. Div. Rear Detachment commander, presided over the early morning ceremony as he welcomed more than 300 'Greywolf' Soldiers home after a yearlong deployment to Iraq.
"First and foremost, welcome home. We thank you for a job well done, we couldn't be more proud of you on this great Central Texas morning. To our families, we appreciate your sacrifices, and all you have done for us and these Soldiers during this past year," Sauer said just before releasing Soldiers to their loved ones by uttering the 1st Cav.'s customary "charge!"
Families and friends reuniting on Cooper Field made for emotional scenes.
"Words can't describe how good it feels to be home," said Spc. Jeffery Merrick, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "It's been a while, but nothing feels as good as being home."
Crystal Bonner and daughter-in-law Kari Davis, lived together throughout the deployment said their husbands; Spc. Joshua Bonner and Pvt. Bradley Davis, both assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd HBCT, 1st Cav. Div., have been together since Advanced Individual Training.
"It's the best family reunion ever," said Davis, due to have the couple's child Dec. 8.