Story and photos by Geoffrey Roper
As Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, continue coming back from war, more and more welcome home ceremonies are taking place.
This week, Fort Carson welcomed back three groups, totaling nearly 600 troops, in multiple ceremonies held at the Special Events Center throughout the first week of June.
The first ceremony took place June 1, with more than 200 Soldiers returning from deployment. June 2 saw another 60, and June 5, approximately 300 Soldiers returned in the early morning, with friends and Family coming out in large numbers to welcome them home.
One mother-in-law was just glad to have her son-in-law home unharmed.
“I’m thrilled that he’s coming back in one piece. This is his third deployment,” said Katie Duffield, mother-in-law of 1st Sgt. Christopher Little, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
Her husband, Darren, felt the same.
“You just kinda worry about him all the time,” he said.
Little’s wife, Karen, recently retired as a master sergeant after 23 years of service. She said it felt different being on the other side for the first time.
“It’s been rough, but I’ve had a lot of support from all the other Family members. I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s home and he’s safe,” she said.
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.
During its 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.
Frances Alaniz, wife of Staff Sgt. Rudy Alaniz, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., spoke about the stress of not hearing from her husband for a few days when he was out on a mission, then finally hearing from him, knowing he was safe.
“Once you get that phone call, it’s literally a load off your shoulders,” she said.
Well past the halfway point now, the last of 4th
Inf. Div. deployed Soldiers will continue to fly in during the next week.