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Homecoming begins for Soldiers of the ‘Rugged Battalion’

5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 04:50PM July 26th, 2012
Homecoming begins for Soldiers of the ‘Rugged Battalion’

5th MPAD

Spc. Thomas Moore holds his son Ashton, as his wife, Savannah, welcomes him home from deployment. The 14th FSC, part of 14th Engr. Bn., 555th Engr. Bde., deployed to Afghanistan for a year to conduct route clearance missions.

Approximately 150 Soldiers assigned to the 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, reunited with Family and friends at a homecoming ceremony July 17, at the Wilson Sports and Fitness Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lewis North.

The Soldiers of the “Rugged Battalion” completed a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan where they conducted route clearance in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This was the unit’s first deployment to Afghanistan.

More than 600 Soldiers from the battalion deployed; the unit’s remaining Soldiers returned to JBLM on flights later in the week.

Tara and Brian Hutchison didn’t have to travel far from Bonney Lake to welcome home their son, Spc. Sean Hutchison, combat engineer, 571st Sapper Company. The couple sat waiting for the ceremony with their daughter-in-law, Marlena Hutchison.

“It will be so good to see him again in person instead of through Skype; depending on how well the Internet was running on his end over there, sometimes it was difficult to make contact that way, Tara Hutchison said.

“We didn’t talk much about the missions he was on, mostly we talked about the friends he had there and things he was interested in like baseball and motorcycles. It’s good to take your mind off work, separate from those stresses. So we always wanted to give him a taste of life at home whenever he could contact us.”

Family and friends of the returning Soldiers gathered at Wilson Sports and Fitness Center an hour before this first of several flight’s arrival. They watched a live video feed from McChord Field on a large screen, and cheered when Soldiers began to descend from their plane.

Within hours, Soldiers arrived at Wilson by bus and formed up behind a mechanically raised tarp that divided the main gym, with loved ones waiting on the other side.

The crowd cheered again as the tarp ascended to the ceiling and the formation of Soldiers marched to within yards of their Families.

Handshakes, hugs and tears of happiness spread across the large room as soon as the formation was released. Marlena Hutchison ran to her husband, whose embrace picked her up off the floor.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done but I’m so glad to be home. I’m looking forward to wearing something other than a uniform as comfortable clothing – and sleeping in a comfortable bed,” Hutchison said.

The battalion was spread across three regional commands in southern Afghanistan, an area roughly the size of Washington state.

The frequent missions kept motor transport operators like Spc. Thomas Moore very busy. His wife Savannah, a former water treatment specialist, brought their 4-month-old son Ashton to the reunion.

“Ashton was born six days after my (end term of service) date, and four weeks earlier than expected. We tried to move up his leave to be here in time for the birth and were able to bring him home four days afterwards,” Savannah Moore said.

Specialist Anthony Ayala, construction equipment repairman, 571st Sapper Co., was happy to see that his mother had traveled from Colton, Calif., to welcome him home with his wife, Krystal, and daughter, Makayla.

“I’m happy to be home, I feel as far away from Helmand Province as I can be right now. My mind isn’t on route clearance missions, it’s on going on leave and spending time with my Family,” Ayala said.Approximately 150 Soldiers assigned to the 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, reunited with Family and friends at a homecoming ceremony July 17, at the Wilson Sports and Fitness Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lewis North.

The Soldiers of the “Rugged Battalion” completed a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan where they conducted route clearance in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This was the unit’s first deployment to Afghanistan.

More than 600 Soldiers from the battalion deployed; the unit’s remaining Soldiers returned to JBLM on flights later in the week.

Tara and Brian Hutchison didn’t have to travel far from Bonney Lake to welcome home their son, Spc. Sean Hutchison, combat engineer, 571st Sapper Company. The couple sat waiting for the ceremony with their daughter-in-law, Marlena Hutchison.

“It will be so good to see him again in person instead of through Skype; depending on how well the Internet was running on his end over there, sometimes it was difficult to make contact that way, Tara Hutchison said.

“We didn’t talk much about the missions he was on, mostly we talked about the friends he had there and things he was interested in like baseball and motorcycles. It’s good to take your mind off work, separate from those stresses. So we always wanted to give him a taste of life at home whenever he could contact us.”

Family and friends of the returning Soldiers gathered at Wilson Sports and Fitness Center an hour before this first of several flight’s arrival. They watched a live video feed from McChord Field on a large screen, and cheered when Soldiers began to descend from their plane.

Within hours, Soldiers arrived at Wilson by bus and formed up behind a mechanically raised tarp that divided the main gym, with loved ones waiting on the other side.

The crowd cheered again as the tarp ascended to the ceiling and the formation of Soldiers marched to within yards of their Families.

Handshakes, hugs and tears of happiness spread across the large room as soon as the formation was released. Marlena Hutchison ran to her husband, whose embrace picked her up off the floor.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done but I’m so glad to be home. I’m looking forward to wearing something other than a uniform as comfortable clothing – and sleeping in a comfortable bed,” Hutchison said.

The battalion was spread across three regional commands in southern Afghanistan, an area roughly the size of Washington state. The frequent missions kept motor transport operators like Spc. Thomas Moore very busy. His wife Savannah, a former water treatment specialist, brought their 4-month-old son Ashton to the reunion.

“Ashton was born six days after my (end term of service) date, and four weeks earlier than expected. We tried to move up his leave to be here in time for the birth and were able to bring him home four days afterwards,” Savannah Moore said.

Specialist Anthony Ayala, construction equipment repairman, 571st Sapper Co., was happy to see that his mother had traveled from Colton, Calif., to welcome him home with his wife, Krystal, and daughter, Makayla.

“I’m happy to be home, I feel as far away from Helmand Province as I can be right now. My mind isn’t on route clearance missions, it’s on going on leave and spending time with my Family,” Ayala said.