The 1st Cavalry Division hosted a welcome home ceremony Jan. 14 at Cooper Field for more than 75 “Black Jack” soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The brigade deployed in July for a nine-month deployment, however, as security gains were made and as the U.S. draws down troop levels in Afghanistan, select service members and units are able to return home ahead of schedule.

Families who were eager to lay eyes on their loved ones for the first time since they left in July flocked to two TV monitors in the division’s headquarters where they could watch their soldiers disembark from the airplane live.

“I can’t even watch,” Stephanie Ochoa said of the tease while waiting for her husband, Sgt. David Ochoa. “I just want to see him face to face.”

Keeping her distracted on the field was her mother-in-law, Sara Ochoa, and her brother-in-law, Andy.

“All I want to do is to hug my baby,” said Sara Ochoa, referencing her son. “As a mother, it’s hard to see your children go off to war, but I am so happy he is home early and that I could be here to welcome him home.”

As the crowd shouted the famous words, “Move that bus,” the soldiers emerged and made their way to their eager families.

“Mission accomplished and job well done,” said Col. Jeff Milhorn, division chief of staff. “I’m going to keep this short. On the count of the three, I want you to charge all the soldiers on the field this morning.”

Contact Vanessa Lynch at or 254-501-7567.

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