A Thanksgiving to remember: Fort Polk soldiers return from Afghanistan
This Thanksgiving, Fort Polk families are counting their blessings with the return of more than 100 soldiers from two units after nine months in Afghanistan.
Soldiers in the 573rd company, 46th Engineer Battalion and 52nd TICO, 3rd battalion, 353rd Regiment supported the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade for the new combat advisor unit's first-ever deployment.
This was Misti Cameron's first experience with deployment. Her husband, Specialist Dustin Cameron is in the 573rd. "At first it was super scary and you didn't know what to expect but every day just more hope, more hope to get him home," she said. "I missed that he was missing his son growing up and his first birthday." Spc. Cameron added that he got to see his baby boy's first steps via FaceTime.
573rd company commander Captain Mitchell McDonald's older sister Shawndra McDonald was waiting for his arrival at a ceremony on post Monday night. "I am so thankful that God saw fit to bring my brother back in time for the holidays. We sent care packages to make sure they felt a little bit of home while they were out there in Afghanistan."
Cpt. Mitchell said the company provided route clearance for 1SFAB.
"Obviously a company commander deploying his guys out to Afghanistan, you never want to leave anybody behind, that was my number one priority was to make sure I brought everybody back...all boots are back on the ground."
Spc. Cameron said it was hard being away from his wife and young son but "knowing this is what I get to come home to at the end of this deployment, makes it all worth it."
Soldiers in 52nd TICO served as translators for the Fort Benning-based combat advisors. Sergeant Said Noor remembers the day American troops came to his neighborhood in Afghanistan. "That was my dream for someone to come to Afghanistan and get the Afghan people the freedom and also the things they deserve. I'm honored to be part of the greatest military in the world."
The small group expected little fanfare Saturday night when they arrived at the Alexandria airport, but fellow soldiers made sure translators with family overseas still received a warm homecoming.
"Oh my gosh," exclaimed Sergeant Bryan Scott. "I didn't expect it this much. I was like maybe I'm going to have a few friends here. But when I came here I see all the high ranking officers and non-commissioned officers are welcoming me. It was a great feeling for me."
Sgt. Scott said he'll be spending Thanksgiving with his Army family.