Family and friends eagerly awaited the arrival of approximately 300 soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, on Fort Hood’s Cooper field following their return from deployment late on Feb. 7.

A total of around 3,500 soldiers were deployed to South Korea for a nine-month deployment in support of United States Forces-Korea’s commitment to the Republic of Korea.

Col. William D. Taylor, the 1st Cavalry Division deputy commander for maneuver, addressed the soldiers as they marched off the buses and stood in formation prior to being released to their loved ones.

“Black Jack troopers, welcome home. We are incredibly proud of you,” Taylor said. “To the families and friends of the troopers here tonight, thanks for being here tonight, you truly make us all Cav Strong.”

Maj. Abraham Sweeney, the executive officer for the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, said the deployment provided an excellent training opportunity, but he was glad to be home with family.

“This is my sixth deployment and the hardest part is being away from family,” Sweeney said. “I have kids now so it’s a whole different dimension.”

Sweeney’s wife, Karla Sweeney, and sons Michael, 4, and Ryan, 2, greeted Abraham Sweeney on the parade field. Karla Sweeney said after so many deployments she has gotten used to the routine.

“It hasn’t been too bad, we’ve done this before and it’s been nice, and we were able to communicate a lot,” Karla Sweeney said.

Karla Sweeney said the hardest part was the children missing their father, but they plan on making up for lost time.

“Just spending time together and getting back into our routine as a family,” Karla Sweeney said. “We’re going to Iowa to see family.”

Despite the unease on the Korean peninsula during the deployment, the 2nd Brigade troopers trained to “stand ready to support the (Republic of Korea) Army and defend the Korean people,” according to the unit’s Facebook page. The “Black Jack” soldiers also found time to volunteer at schools and orphanages and distributed charcoal to heat the homes of impoverished citizens of Dongducheon City during the frigid winter months.

The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, will replace 2nd Brigade as part of a regular rotation of forces to the peninsula, according to a Jan. 10 Army press release. The remainder of the brigade is expected to be home on Fort Hood by the end of February.

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