by Dustin Senger
More than 400 Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, returned to Fort Carson March 12-13, during the “Iron” Brigade’s final main-body redeployment flights.
Col. James E. Rainey, 3rd BCT commander, and Command Sgt. Major Miles S. Wilson uncased the brigade’s colors inside the Special Events Center March 13, in front of 237 Soldiers patiently standing at the position of attention.
The ceremonial unfurling of the flag marked the unit’s return to the Mountain Post.
Nearly 4,000 Soldiers from 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., returned to Fort Carson in March, according to brigade officials. The walls and ceiling inside the Special Events Center had collected hundreds of colorful “welcome home” banners since the first 3rd BCT group returned in February.
Rainey and Wilson cased their unit’s colors at Fort Carson March 3, 2010, ahead of the brigade’s deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit progressively took responsibility of four southern provinces in Iraq, prior to the switch to Operation New Dawn in September, which marked the end of U.S. combat operations.
The “Iron” Brigade advised and assisted Iraqi military and security organizations, commanded convoys and cleared routes. The Soldiers transitioned the authority of 19 military bases to Iraqi commanders and finished $15.5 million in infrastructure projects, according to a Fort Carson official.
Brig. Gen. James H. Doty Jr., acting senior commander, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, explained the brigade’s achievements at the uncasing ceremony, and then thanked the Soldiers’ Families for their resiliency. Hundreds of the relatives and friends had filled the facing bleachers, ready to reconnect with their Soldiers.
After the general’s remarks, the Special Events Center echoed with a collective rendition of “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” Like other loved ones, Jaime Schildt eagerly awaited the Army song’s final refrain. Her daughter, Jasmine, asked “where’s daddy?”
“I’m glad to be back,” said Sgt. 1st Class Erik Schildt, following the military formation’s dismissal. He had Jasmine, 4, smiling in his arms. “I’m just happy to be reunited.”
The Schildts said they’ll spend a few days relaxing and plan to visit Las Vegas and Disneyland, and then family in Hawaii.
Bob Tallerdy walked across the congested auditorium, shaking the Soldiers’ hands in appreciation. His Colorado Patriot Guard Rider’s vest had a sergeant chevron, the rank he wore as a 4th Inf. Div. ranger in Vietnam 40 years ago. He said his flight home in 1970 was greeted by violence from war protestors.
“They are receiving gratitude, respect, pride,” Tallerdy said about today’s veterans of war. “They aren’t afraid to walk downtown … people will shake their hands and welcome them home.”
Tallerdy says he attends every redeployment ceremony at Fort Carson “to show the Soldiers respect – they need all the support they can get.” Another pin on his vest stated: “It’s never too late to welcome home.”