Staff Sgt. Matthew Brito is welcomed home by his 3-year-old-daughter Clara, 16-month-old son Callen and wife Abby at the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade's homecoming following a nine month deployment on Saturday at the West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Center.

Amy Proctor

Killeen resident Jermaine Francis anxiously waited with flowers in his hands as his wife, Spc. Kyera Francis, was returning home.

Nearly 70 Fort Hood soldiers were greeted by beaming smiles, tears of joy, and welcoming arms as the 69th Air Defense Artillary Brigade returned from a nine-month deployment in the Middle East on Saturday morning.

Col. Richard Garrison thanked all of the families for their support of their troops over the last nine months.

“Thank you for all of your sacrifices while we were gone. This team broke records that will stay in the theater (Middle East) for years to come.”

The homecoming ceremony had over 200 friends and family members who expressed collective happiness to see their deployed loved ones for the first time since May 2016.

Francis said not being able to talk to his wife as much as he wanted was the toughest part of the deployment.

“The first month wasn’t too bad because I was in school, but after the months began to stack up it became more and more difficult,” Francis said. “I’m looking forward to us taking the next step in our lives, buying a house, starting a family, and all the other things we talked about while she was gone.”

The 69th Brigade’s mission was to provide command and control for the patriot units that are currently deployed in the Middle East.

Garrison expressed his satisfaction with his brigade’s performance while deployed.

“My staff took on that mission and took it to another level — we had a lot of first-time ever soldiers. My team went out there and raised the operational readiness rate (how the Army measures the performance of their weapons systems) we raised that rate to 98 percent, the highest in four years,” Garrison said

Spc. Francis who was seeing her husband for the first time since May, said she was lost for words and happy she was home. “I don’t know, I cant explain it (how it feels to be home). I’m just so happy, its unreal right now,” she said.

When asked what she looks forward to most now that she is back home, she said simply, “Being with my husband.”

quinton@kdhnews.com |254-501-7568

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