Fort Bliss, TX (U.S. Army) — Family and friends gathered together at the Arrival Departure Airfield Control Group at Biggs Army Airfield to welcome home the last deployed members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, May 24.
A roar of applause erupted and hand painted welcome home signs began waving up and down like flashing neon lights when the plane carrying the Soldiers of the “Highlander Brigade” touched down.
As the Soldiers made their way from the plane, they were met by chants of “daddy, daddy” and children with eyes filled with tears of joy at seeing their newly returned parents. Their Soldiers were finally home.
“I felt like I was finalizing the first worthwhile thing I’ve done in my young Army career,” said Spc. Zach Nichols, a Soldier assigned to 2nd Battalion, 29 Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT.
The Soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan as part of a Security Force Assistance Adviser Team. While there, they worked hand-in-hand with Afghanistan national security forces.
Col. Terry P. Cook, the brigade commander of 4th BCT, said he believes the SFAAT team’s mission was a great success.
“Looking at how the Afghan (national) security forces were able to improve under the SFAAT’s leadership was fairly remarkable,” said Cook. “If we didn’t see that kind of progress, we would have been disappointed in what we were doing.”
For the first time in nine months, the brigade is back together as a whole and that’s something Cook is excited about.
“Words almost can’t describe it,” said Cook. “After taking command for only a day, my first 10 SFAAT teams left for Afghanistan. For well over a year, we haven’t had 4th BCT together as a whole.”
In the SFAAT’s absence, 4th BCT was able to accomplish many things to bring pride to the brigade. Sappers of 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT, took three of the four top spots during the Iron Sapper Competition and most recently the Highlanders were the overall winners of Team Bliss week.
“The success of the brigade has been truly phenomenal,” said Cook. “This has been indicative of what the brigade has been able to achieve and now that we have all the leadership back, I think that we’re going to show Fort Bliss and Team Bliss what it’s like to have the 4th Brigade (Combat Team) back on the ground.”
With the success of the brigade while deployed and in garrison, the expectation is high for the Highlanders to continue to perform well in the future.
“Elements of this brigade have been deployed for the last 18 months advising the armies of Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Cook. “We’re going to shift gears and seek to become the premier armored brigade in the Army.”