FORT HOOD — When Ernest Davis returned from a combat tour to Vietnam in 1968, the homecoming was anything but friendly.
“They called you names, spit on you,” said Davis, who was part of a helicopter attack unit based at Fort Hood. His unit deployed from Texas but came home to California. “It wasn’t too good.”
Davis saw a very different kind of homecoming on Tuesday, however.
This homecoming was filled with colorful welcome-home posters, children playing on the 1st Cavalry Division parade field and dance music blaring from nearby speakers, about 250 soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, returned to Fort Hood Tuesday after a nine-month deployment to Kuwait.
The Apache helicopter unit trained with the Navy and other countries while deployed, said Lt. Col. Hank Perry, the battalion’s commander.
Perry and battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Zacchaeus Hurst uncased the unit’s colors during a homecoming ceremony at Cooper Field.
Davis and hundreds of other family members came out to welcome the troops home.
Davis drove from the Fort Worth area to welcome home Sgt. Ben West, who is married to Davis’ granddaughter, Ashton West.
Greeted with hugs and kisses, Ben West said the deployment — his fourth — was tough.
“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of high tempers, but we pulled through as a team,” he said.
A few feet away, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Pyburn, a helicopter pilot, greeted his 7-month-old daughter, Olivia, for the first time.
His wife, Megan Pyburn, beamed with excitement as the new father lifted his daughter over his head in celebration.
“I’m just excited to see my husband,” said Megan Pyburn, adding she’ll be glad to get some help changing diapers.
Davis, wearing a black vest and black cap that declared him a Vietnam veteran, said his homecoming was nothing like this one.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “This is what we should have for everybody coming back.”
COMING NEXT WEEK: Read more about 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment’s mission to Kuwait in the April 30 edition of the Fort Hood Herald.