POSTED: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 10:18pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 10:19pm
Fort Bliss, TX — After a nine month deployment to Afghanistan, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Security Forces Assistance Advisory Team returned to Fort Bliss, Feb. 17, to the cheers and tears of family and friends.
More than 300 people, many carrying signs and gifts, packed the Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group on Biggs Army Airfield in anticipation of seeing their loved ones.
Faye Griggs, mother of Capt. Kim Bowman, had flown in from Jacksonville, N.C. the previous Friday to meet her daughter and son-in-law, Lt. Col. Joseph Bowman, commanding officer of the Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT, 1st AD.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Griggs. “I lost a brother in Vietnam. My daughter has stepped right into his footsteps.”
Many others came from outside El Paso and Fort Bliss to welcome home a loved one.
Tom Cleary, father of 1st Lt. Connor Cleary, drove from California with his wife to see his son for the first time in more than nine months.
“We have a large family and we have been getting texts all day asking if Connor was home yet,” Cleary said.
Having no other military background in their family, Cleary said the family takes great pride in his son’s service to his country.
There were many stories floating through the general murmur of the room as the families waited. A wife waiting for a man she had married just before deployment, a newborn girl waiting to meet the father who had not been there for her birth, were just two stories awaiting their happy endings.
Everywhere the words “proud,” “happy,” “relieved,” “safe” and “home” filled the air.
The people waiting were grateful that no Soldier from this unit had been killed or seriously harmed during their deployment. Several spouses noted that this deployment was a little more difficult to cope with.
“They were more active in the province they were in,” said Heidi Grabowski, wife of
Maj. John Grabowski, a member of team 7 of the 4th BCT SFAAT. “I’m really happy they are coming home safe.”
The SFAAT was in Afghanistan for nine months advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces as they prepare for U.S. forces to withdraw in the next few years. The SFAAT members worked with their Afghan counterparts to improve their logistics, intelligence, maintenance, administration, rule of law, and training capabilities.