FORT BLISS, Texas - Marching through a cloud of smoke, the soldiers of 202nd Military Police Company and 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment were greeted by family members and friends cheering, crying and laughing during their homecoming ceremony Aug. 6 afternoon at Biggs Army Airfield’s Departure/Arrival Airfield Control Group facility.
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport, Fort Bliss and 1st AD command sergeant major; Col. James R. Ryan, 15th Sustainment Brigade commander; Lt. Col. Vernon Lightner, 93rd MP Battalion commander and other Fort Bliss officials met the plane and welcomed every soldier back home with a handshake and words of encouragement while the division’s band played in the background.
Sgt. 1st Class Christian Morales of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Bde., said he missed his wife and has only seen her for about five months in two years since they are both in the military and deployed. Morales said it has been difficult, but that patience makes a marriage work.
“I love my wife,” said Morales. “I still get those butterflies in my stomach and I am anxious to see her.”
The 202nd MP Company deployed to Regional Command South in Kandahar for a year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom by providing Police Mentorship Training teams for Afghan National Security Forces as a part of the joint effort to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.
Lightner said the 202nd shipped out to the “hottest” war at the “hottest” time at the “hottest” location when they deployed last year. Lightner said everyone from the company, which included more than 120 soldiers, returned home without any serious injury; however, several soldiers each received a Purple Heart for injuries in combat.
Command Sgt. Maj. Len Harris of the 24th Press Camp Headquarters said the 16th MPAD supported the mission in Afghanistan for the past year by ensuring the message about what soldiers are doing finds its way to the public.
The 16th MPAD’s mission is to rapidly deploy worldwide to provide direct public affairs support to commanders through broadcast, print and media liaison operations, and had 20 Soldiers returning.
Suzanne Smith shed tears of joy at the return of her only son, Sgt. Marces Smith of the 202nd MP Company Smith said she missed her son terribly while he was deployed but understood his passion for his job.
“He loves being a soldier,” said Smith. “He always wanted to be a superhero and he is. I am glad he is protecting me and all my rights.”