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3rd Heavy Brigade returning to Fort Benning after month-long training at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com
Capt. Leslie Stanfield kisses his infant daughter Mallory with his wife Kelly after arriving back at Fort Benning from a month of training in California.
Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com Capt. Leslie Stanfield kisses his infant daughter Mallory with his wife Kelly after arriving back at Fort Benning from a month of training in California.

Minutes before buses arrived at the Kelley Hill Recreation Center Thursday, Beth Clagg couldn’t wait for soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division to return from month-long training in California.

“Having two little children was a bit of a challenge this time,” said Beth, holding 4-month old Annabelle and watching son Bradley, 4. “We have the baby and keeping up with him without my husband’s help. Keeping up with both of them is probably the biggest challenge.”

Clagg was among a group of waiting family members as 800 soldiers arrived from the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. Since Tuesday, more than 3,000 soldiers have returned to Fort Benning from the desert training, said Maj. Ellis Gales, a brigade public affairs spokesman. The rest of the soldiers should arrive this weekend.

Gales said Col. Johnnie Johnson, commander of the brigade, is expected to return on an early flight today at Lawson Army Airfield.

The bus with Beth’s husband, Lt. David Clagg, arrived just before 2:30 p.m.

“It feels great,” Clagg said after a brief reunion with his family. “I got to see one training center that I haven’t yet got to see.”

As a newly commissioned officer, Clagg said he was able to see a different side of the Army from the top, looking at soldiers and how they function together as a team. Soldiers left for training in the California desert on March 2 after sending hundreds of pieces of equipment by rail. It included M1A1 Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and the new Assault Breacher Vehicle.

Back at home, Clagg said it’s now family time.

“I just told my boy we are going to King’s Pond, do some camping and fishing,” he said of his son named after the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. “Try to get as much time as we can, family time.”

Kelly Stanfield said she too had a tough time while her husband, Capt. Leslie Stanfield, was training. She said their infant daughter Mallory is teething.

“It is our first child and the first time he has been gone,” Kelly said, “She has been cranky, late nights and early mornings, very busy. I’m very anxious and excited.”

After a welcome home kiss, Stanfield said he couldn’t wait to get home, sit in a pair of shorts and spend time with family.

Read more in Friday's Ledger-Enquirer.

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