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14th MI Battalion returns from Afghanistan

October 23, 2012

By Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade writer-editor

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The 14th Military Intelligence Battalion returned here in the early morning of Oct. 21 after deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom one year ago.

Earlier in the day, the battalion disembarked from a chartered airliner at the Kelly Field Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, before boarding buses for the Fort Sam Houston Teen Center. Inside the gym their families waited to greet them with colorful signs and balloons.

As the Soldiers entered the gymnasium and fell into formation, applause and cheers resounded.

Col. Pierre Gervais, 470th MI Brigade commander, briefly addressed the returning Soldiers of the brigade's subordinate battalion, quickly listing some of their accomplishments during their interrogation mission.

"You've done absolutely fantastic," he said. "We're very proud of what you've done."

With the short ceremony over, the Soldiers received the command "Dismissed!" but the family members were the first to move, springing from the bleachers to embrace their Soldier.

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Lebowitz's wife and six-year-old daughter had traveled from their home out of state to greet him.

"The first thing I want to do is spend time together," he said as he held them closely. This had been his fourth overseas deployment since joining the Army but his first deployment with the 14th MI Battalion.

For Sgt. Felix Contreras, it was his second year-long deployment with the 14th; his first was to Iraq in 2009-2010.

"I first felt I was really back home when I was holding my family," he said as he embraced his wife, Irene, and their two little boys.

"I'm holding onto the moment and enjoying my family," she said.

Lt. Col. Kris Arnold, 14th MI Battalion commander, said it felt "incredible" to be home as he stood surrounded by his wife and daughters.

"The battalion did a fantastic job while they were deployed," he said. "They truly set the standard high."

The 14th MI Battalion primarily consists of interrogators and information analysts. During the deployment they conducted detainee screening and interrogation, document and media exploitation, and intelligence analysis, to provide timely intelligence to commanders in support of the International Stabilization Force in Afghanistan.

Returning Soldiers will perform some "reintegration" training during their first week at home. However, they will then have 30 days of leave before resuming their military duties.

The battalion is scheduled to inactivate before the end of the fiscal year.

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