Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Their journey began approximately 10 months ago in the Agrhandab River Valley, near Kandahar, Afghanistan, when Staff Sgt. Jason Searles, Sgt. Eric Trueblood and Pfc. Jeffrey Brown sustained injuries during a patrol, forcing them to leave their brothers-in-arms and return home.
The wounded warriors greeted redeploying Soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participating in their unit’s welcome home ceremony and returning to the formation, May 6.
“It’s everything to me,” Brown said. “I have been waiting on this for quite a while.”
Due to their injuries, Searles completed rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and recently transferred to the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Battalion, while Trueblood and Brown continue rehabilitation at San Antonio Medical Center in Texas.
Searles said seeing his company back safe provided closure, and he welcomed the opportunity to reunite with his “Warhorse” Family.
“It was a great feeling seeing them come home,” said Searles. “It felt like I was coming back home, too.”
As the Warhorse Soldiers exited their plane, their injured comrades welcomed the troops home with hugs and smiles.
“It was really good to see them, and I couldn’t be happier they are doing so well,” said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Larson, platoon sergeant, Company C, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd BCT.
Reuniting with their comrades on the flight line, the wounded warriors joined the Soldiers in the redeployment processing, reminiscing about the past and catching up on current events.
Following a safety brief, everyone loaded up on buses taking them to the welcome home ceremony at Fort Carson’s Special Events Center.
All wounded warriors should go through the experience of seeing their unit return and attend welcome home ceremonies, said Capt. Chris Freeborg, commander, Rear Detachment, 1st Bn., 67th Armor Reg.
“If it is not a tradition, it should be,” said Freeborg. “The biggest impact these guys have — and I don’t think they realize it — is they really inspire the other Soldiers when they come back.”
Warhorse Brigade issued orders to authorize the temporary duty status of Trueblood and Brown, who were originally assigned to Company C, 1st Bn., 67th Armor Reg., so the Soldiers could attend the ceremony at Fort Carson.
“We made it a point to never forget about them,” said Freeborg. “They know they will always be a part of the ‘Death Dealer’ family.”
Trueblood and Brown drove from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in vehicles specially modified by SAMC to accommodate their injuries. The Death Dealers coordinated with 2nd BCT and 4th Inf. Div. to cover travel expenses to and from their current WTB.
“They got me my orders to come here,” said Trueblood. “Everything is paid for and covered, and I really appreciate it.”
Before the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, greeted the warriors with a firm handshake and a pat on the back, sharing his gratitude for their service.
With songs of military pride playing, the redeployed Soldiers entered the Special Events Center through a cloud of smoke to loud cheers from Soldiers, Families and friends of Fort Carson.
The Soldiers stood at attention as Lt. Col. Nicholas Palarino, commander, Rear Detachment, 2nd BCT, led the wounded warriors to the front of the formation where three slots remained open.
Falling into the ranks with their fellow comrades, standing shoulder to shoulder, Searles, Trueblood and Brown joined in singing the Army Song and the 4th Inf. Div. March.
“It was an honor and privilege to see them fall back into the formation,” said Palarino. “Their recovery is always on our minds, and we are glad to have them back.”