“I’m just happy to be home,” said SGT Chris Shelly, one of the more than 700 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldiers disembarking at Lawson Army Airfield last week.
“I think everyone was ready to step off the plane and sleep in (his) own bed,” said the Infantryman in Brigade Special Troops Battalion who has deployed with 3rd HBCT three times.
“We are proud to have them back home,” said rear detachment sergeant major 1SG Mario Cirinese. “Even after multiple deployments, many of our Soldiers volunteered to stay with the brigade knowing they would go back to Iraq.”
As the unit’s fourth deployment comes to a close, the most for any brigade in the Army, around 1,700 Soldiers still remain in Iraq. But all are expected to be back at Fort Benning this month.
“Everything has gone really smooth so far,” said CPT Daniel Stuewe, the 3rd HBCT’s rear detachment executive officer. “Our Soldiers have done a great job of getting everything put in place to facilitate a smooth transition for our returning Soldiers. A year is a long time away from home and we wanted these Soldiers’ return to be as easy as possible.”
Returning Sledgehammer Soldiers get the first 48 hours off. But, after that, there is a 10-day reintegration period.
“The focus of reintegration is to ensure the safe and healthy reunion of Soldiers with their families,” said LTC Tom Woodie, the 3rd HBCT’s rear detachment commander. “The 10-day reintegration program has days focused on multiple areas including medical, dental, motorcycle and vehicle safety. There is also one day specifically set aside for Soldiers and their spouses to attend together.”