Happy, sad times for Fort Hood units, families

Herald/STEVE TRAYNOR - Cpt. Jason Decker greets his fiancee Priscilla Rogers during a homecoming ceremony for 150 soldiers from the 15th Sustainment Command at 1st Cavalry Division headquarters on Fort Hood on Monday.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fort Hood Herald

It is busy on post. Darn busy. Busy even for the free world’s largest military installation.

Planes carrying soldiers to and from war buzz overhead nearly every day. While the post prepares for the homecoming of the 1st Cavalry Division, it is also deploying soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

But that’s not all. Soldiers from other Fort Hood units, including the 13th Sustainment Command, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, 89th Military Police Brigade, 3rd Signal Brigade and 36th Engineer Brigade’s 20th Engineer Battalion have returned to Fort Hood in the last week.

Still, others from units like the 4th Infantry’s 4th Brigade Combat Team and 13th Sustainment’s 4th Sustainment Brigade are at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., preparing for rotations to the Middle East.

Since Oct. 30, nearly 1,000 soldiers from units across post have returned home. Nearly 1,000 from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and about 100 4th Infantry soldiers have departed from Central Texas.

Col. Gary Agron, the 4th Infantry’s Effects Coordinator, left on Friday for his first tour to Iraq. He is part of an advance party who will go forward and prepare for the rest of the division’s arrival in the Middle East.

The soldiers, mostly those in the communications, logistics and administration fields, will remain in Kuwait until the 4th Infantry arrives and pushes into Iraq, then they will follow.

Agron was leaving Fort Sill, Okla., on his way to Hawaii when he got a call from 4th Infantry’s commander, Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, who asked him to join the division in Iraq.

“In a heartbeat, sir,” Agron said.

The colonel said the division had some good soldiers, and this was probably the first deployment for only a handful of them.

“Hopefully this will be the last time we have to do this,” he said of deploying. “We’re there to win.”

This is the second deployment for Captain Sylvan Smith and Maj. Gary Ridenhour. It is the third for Chief Warrant Officer-2 Donald Boucher. All work in the division’s communications section, something leaders will rely heavily on in the battlefield. Ridenhour said communications are “absolutely critical to the operation.”

Between the three of them, there is more than 32 years of military experience. Boucher said deployments are becoming a drill for his family.

Ridenhour said that for this deployment, he and his family focused more on the emotional side. A 15-month deployment is harder on the family, especially his 6- and 9-year-old children.

Knowing that they’re going into a 15-month deployment can be hard, Smith said. Knowing it’s going to be a “long, long” deployment, she said she’ll get through it by remaining stoic and focusing on work.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at (254) 501-7547 or astair@kdhnews.com

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