Story and photo by Dustin Senger
Lt. Col. Dean Meinert, 242nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion commander, uncased his battalion’s colors Aug. 24, symbolizing the unit’s return to Fort Carson after one year in Iraq.
“We’re joined by 25 men and women who, for the last year, have sacrificed their time to make extraordinary efforts in the defense of this great nation,” said Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, speaking to Army Families and friends inside the Special Events Center.
The welcome home ceremony hailed the final of two flights, which returned 35 Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 242nd EOD, 71st Ordnance Group (EOD). They had supported U.S. Division-North in Iraq, which was initially commanded by 3rd Infantry Division but later transitioned to 4th Inf. Div.
The 242nd EOD headed two Army EOD companies and two Navy EOD Mobile Units in seven of Iraq’s northern provinces, covering 88,000 square miles of terrain, said Doty.
The headquarters company logged nearly 1,500 EOD missions, while tracking more than 2,500 items of theater-provided equipment and organizational property, according to brigade reports. Amid an ongoing drawdown and retrograde of forces, they coordinated the turn-in of more than 1,200 items.
Soldiers from the headquarters company earned six Bronze Stars, a combat award earned for acts of bravery and meritorious achievements or service.
“American heroes have returned to the Mountain Post,” said Doty. He called for a round of applause in recognition for the support of each Soldier’s Family, after explaining that “their service … had not been alone.”
While surrounded by other Family members in bleachers facing the long, single-file formation of redeploying Soldiers, Angela Davidson’s 4 year-old son, Jayden, kept asking “where’s my daddy?” She pointed out her husband and the boy smiled.
Before stepping back for Meinert to dismiss his Soldiers, Doty said “welcome home, job well done, Army strong, ‘Steadfast and Loyal.’”
Soon after, Staff Sgt. Andrew Davidson had Jayden laughing in his arms.
“He was just real excited — he knew his daddy was coming home today,” said Angela Davidson.
“Everyone was really anxious to get out of (Iraq),” said Andrew Davidson, following his fourth assignment supporting overseas contingency operations in the Middle East. “You’ve already spent so much time away that you just want it to be done.”