75th FiB Soldiers return from deployment
September 20, 2012
By Sgt. Nathaniel Foster, 75th Fires Brigade PAO
FORT SILL, Okla.-- The usually quiet, early morning hours were interrupted by loud music and even louder cheers as family members, friends and fellow Soldiers welcomed home the Soldiers of A Battery, 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery as they returned from their six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Sept. 7 at Rinehart Fitness Center.
Forty-three Soldiers touched down at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, about an hour prior, before boarding buses for their home station. At the gym there were plenty of sleepy eyes and restless faces, but that was not enough to hold back the excitement when their Soldiers finally came marching in.
The Soldiers of A/3-13th FA had a tough fight in a demanding mission in a tough part of Afghanistan.
"You took your Soldiers through a hard fight, and you brought every one of them back, and that is impressive," said Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, to the battery commander. McDonald thanked the Soldiers and battery leaders for their outstanding leadership, for being great Soldiers and for their service to their country.
"For many of you, this was your first deployment and you are now combat veterans. You've joined the ranks of some very important people, like those great Americans back there wearing the green shirts, our Vietnam vets," said McDonald.
During the general's speech he recognized the family members for their contributions.
The family member's service is no less important than that of the Soldiers, said McDonald.
"This was my first deployment," said Pfc. Joshua Mergener, a multiple launcher rocket system driver assigned to the battery. "It was stressful at times, but it was also fun at times.
"Being able to call myself a veteran makes me feel more confident," he said.
"But I am excited to be home," said Mergener. "When I saw my wife I was even more excited to be home."
"It is with great humility and deep pride that we stand before the Soldiers of Task Force Assassin," said Lt. Col. Steven Carpenter, 3-13th FA commander. "While deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, these Soldiers provided security to coalition leaders, to include the 1st Infantry Division commander, the commander of International Security Assistance Force and even the president of the United States."
"The Assassin Soldiers partnered with the Afghan National Security Forces, and they supported the government of Afghanistan by securing its people; doing their part to provide the citizens of Afghanistan with the opportunities they would have never had under Taliban rule," said Carpenter. "This is the opportunity to experience freedom and to seize the opportunity of life."
Carpenter also recognized the family members for their contributions.
"You represent what is best about our Army and our nation," he said, calling the families heroes.
"The family members support and commitment was truly admirable," said Carpenter. "Our families feel the burden of deployments as much as those who go into harm's way."
As the Soldiers and family members have learned during this deployment, the price of success in this life is very high, said Carpenter. "But, so are the rewards.
"These rewards are not money nor awards and recognition," he said. "They are the respect, loyalty and the love of the people who surround you and the Assassin family: you have earned all of ours.
"I am honored to report that these warriors are combat proven and ready to reunite with their families," said Carpenter.
"It was a great mission to be part of. It was just the dedication of the hard work my guys put forth," said Capt. Tony Fatula, A Battery commander, after being reunited with his wife, Christy, and 15-month-old daughter, Violet, at the gym.
A Battery deployed to Afghanistan around the end of March, said Fatula. He also commented on the security mission and what the battery did was a change of pace.
The battery did a lot of partnership and partnering with the Afghan forces. The battery also did some security for some very important people. The battery did a little bit of everything while on this deployment. It was an exciting six months, said Fatula.
The Soldiers of the battery had missed a lot of personal events in their lives. One of the Soldiers that had missed a lot was the battery commander.
The captain missed a lot of critical moments in his daughter's life during his deployment. His now 15-month-old daughter is walking and has teeth. That can mean some sleepless nights for a parent, said Fatula.
"My wife is my hero," said Fatula.
The Soldiers of A Battery are excited to be back home with loved ones and are looking forward to returning back to normal life in the states.
Although they are back from deployment, there is still work to be done. The Soldiers now have to conduct the reintegration process which begins the day after returning and will continue for the next seven days.
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