Story and photo by Spc. Mark Sasamoto
43rd Sustainment Brigade
About 130 Soldiers with the 32nd Transportation Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, were welcomed home by Family and friends at a homecoming ceremony at the Special Events Center, Aug. 22.
The 32nd Trans. deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Bagram Airfield, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, in November 2012. During their nine-month deployment, the Soldiers were responsible for sustainment and retrograde operations throughout Regional Commands North, East and Capital. The 32nd Trans. escorted more than 3,000 host nation trucks on more than 80 missions, encompassing more than 200,000 miles of treacherous enemy terrain.
The company trained more than four separate transportation companies and a combined arms battalion on convoy operations, increasing retrograde capabilities throughout their area of operations.
The company suffered five losses during its deployment. Staff Sgt. Joe Nunezrodriguez and Staff Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven died from improvised explosive devices while on convoys and Sgt. William Moody, Spc. Ember Alt and Spc. Robert Ellis died from indirect fire.
The Soldiers were greeted at the Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group by Col. Kirk Whitson, 43rd SB provisional commander; his command team, the 4th Infantry Division Band and Spc. Trenita Crenshaw, who was medically evacuated during the deployment due to injuries sustained from an IED during a convoy.
“It’s a big relief to see everyone again back safely in the States,” said Crenshaw.
On post, Family, friends and Alt’s Family awaited the arrival of the returning Soldiers.
Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” played as members of 32nd Trans. marched proudly into the SEC as the crowd roared to life with screams of joy and the eruption of applause.
The ceremony continued with an invocation, the national anthem, a brief speech by Whitson and concluded with the singing of the 4th Infantry Division and the Army songs.
Capt. Eric Baca, commander, 32nd Trans., then dismissed the company to their waiting Family and friends.
“It feels great to be home, and to be able to bring home the Soldiers to see their Families,” Baca said.
Sgt. Brad Blair, a heavy wheeled vehicle operator, was one of the first returning Soldiers to run to his Family after the company was dismissed. He was met by his wife, Pfc. Leslie Blair, orderly room clerk, Rear Detachment, 32nd Trans., and stepdaughter, Melanie.
“It feels great to be back home and to continue our lives together,” said Leslie Blair. “It’s great to have him home safe and sound.”
In the months to come, 32nd Trans. will be re-integrating with the 43rd SB, as well as with their Families. After they reset, the company is scheduled to support 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment during its March-April training rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.