Story and photos by Geoffrey Roper
Fort Carson welcomed home approximately 2,000 Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in multiple ceremonies held at the Special Events Center the last half of May.
The first ceremony, May 18, had more than 100 Soldiers returning from deployment, as friends and Family came out to the Special Events Center to welcome them home.
The 4th BCT has been supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan for the past year, assisting the Afghanistan national army with security, governance and peacekeeping operations in the Kunar province.
More than 80 Soldiers from the 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., were welcomed home during another ceremony May 21.
A number of Soldiers from the unit, who are already back home, came out to support their returning friends.
“They’re our (brothers and sisters), and we’re just here to support them. We know that they’ve had a long fight for a whole year, and they deserve this,” said Spc. Marcos Gomez, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
One Soldier had quite a present waiting for him – a brand new Family member coming to welcome him home.
“I just gave birth to our baby three days ago,” said Erin Hays, wife of Spc. Richard Hays, 4th
BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “I’m emotional and happy.”
During their deployment, 4th BCT, 4th Inf.
Div., was also responsible for conducting police assessments in the Nangarhar province to ensure safe elections, forming partnerships with local doctors to strengthen health care in the Hutal village of Afghanistan, and holding several districts’ training academies for the Afghanistan national police.
On May 23, the Special Events Center was filled to capacity with Family and friends, as a group of more than 300 Soldiers from 4th BCT, 4th Inf.
Div., were welcomed home.
For the Poole Family, it was an emotional experience, as this was the first deployment for Spc. Jack Poole, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
“It’s indescribable; it’s been difficult not communicating, but I’m awful proud,” said his father, John Poole.
“It’s been tough. I haven’t been able to call him. It’s been a year and I’ve missed him,” said his sister Stephanie.
A group of approximately 280 Soldiers arrived May 26, nearly 340 were welcomed home May 28, and more than 780 arrived Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding
general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, spoke directly to those returning about how both Soldiers and Family members should be proud of their respective roles during deployment.
“To the Soldiers out there in formation, I think you know that there are a lot of people that have been back here … supporting you, keeping things running while you’ve been gone. To us, you are truly American heroes, (but) the people over here, your Families, friends, spouses and children, are equally heroes.
More than half of the Soldiers from the 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., are already back while the rest continue to fly in through the next few weeks.