The 3rd Cavalry Regiment “Brave Rifles” officially uncased the unit colors to signify the final troopers were home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on Thursday at Cooper Field.

The regiment deployed about 1,200 soldiers in late May and early June in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to train, advise and assist Afghanistan National Army forces in taking control of their nation. An additional 500 soldiers deployed in July.

Roughly a third of the troopers were able to come home early in December, making it home in time for Christmas. The remainder returned through the first two weeks of February, with 200 arriving on Valentine’s Day and the final 200 just prior to the colors uncasing.

The unit passed control of the mission to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, from Fort Bliss.

Col. Robert Whittle, 1st Cavalry Division home station commander, welcomed the soldiers home before releasing them to their families.

“Col. (Kevin) Admiral, Command Sgt. Maj. (Bryan) Barker and the troops of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment deployed to Afghanistan nine months ago at the beginning of the fighting season,” Whittle said. “They’ve done a phenomenal job of training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces across 14 provinces. To our magnificent Cav troopers, welcome home — we are incredibly proud of you.”

Admiral, the regimental commander, said extensive training prior to deployment contributed to the unit’s success.

“The soldiers did a great job and I’m very proud of them,” Admiral said. “It’s a great honor to be the regimental commander.”

Regimental Chaplain Maj. Kevin Mucher met his wife, five sons — James, Bryan, Caleb, Liam and Samuel — and 5-week-old daughter Willow on the field.

“It’s awesome to see the family here. This is our first girl, but I tell you, our boys have been phenomenal taking care of their mother and holding the fort down until we all came home,” he said.

James, 12, the oldest of the boys, said he was glad his dad was home and he could give his dad back the “man of the house” duties.

“I’m so glad he’s home finally — it’s so exciting,” he said. “It wasn’t as hard (taking care of a new sister) because I have four younger brothers, but it was incredible having a baby sister finally.”

On Valentine’s Day, Sgt. Ismael Robles III was met by his 4-year-old daughter Isabella, girlfriend Samantha Garza and his parents.

“It feels amazing to be home,” Robles said as he held his daughter. “The best thing about being home is family.”

Robles’ dad, Ismael Jr., was emotional at seeing his son come home safe from his third deployment.

“I worry about him all the time — we hear the news when the worst happens to others,” he said. “This is my baby boy.”

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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