Master Sgt. Robin Diaz was welcomed home to Fort Hood by an entourage of friends who feel more like family.
Together, they cheered and waved balloons as the soldiers marched in to III Corps Headquarters.
“We’re just glad to have her back on American soil,” said longtime friend Thomas Flowers, who held up a ‘Roll Tide’ sign. He flew in from Georgia to attend the homecoming.
Diaz returned from Afghanistan on Sunday along with about 30 troops, including Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, following a 10-month deployment. Two other flights arrived at Fort Hood last week.
“We closed out the mission for III Corps in Afghanistan,” Milley said to an elated crowd. “A year ago, we started deploying soldiers, and (now) the mission is complete. The transfer of authority is complete.”
There will be an election in Afghanistan in 60 days, Milley said, citing the event as a sign of progress made in a “country the size of Texas. We set out to fight and counter terrorism and we did just that.”
Today, 34,000 U.S. service members remain in Afghanistan, a number that is less than half of what it was a year ago. III Corps was responsible for planning, coordinating and synchronizing actions in the country as the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.
Sloane Northridge awaited her husband, Col. David Northridge’s, return alongside her parents and four children, wearing matching “Northridge” T-shirts emblazoned with a buffalo and cowboy boots.
“He’s missed a lot, especially with him,” Northridge said, gesturing to her youngest child, who was only four months when his father deployed.
“It’s been a long deployment.”
Now that he’s home, the family is looking forward to spending time together and the colonel can’t wait to eat a big cheeseburger, Northridge said.
“We’re hoping this is the last one,” she said.