• October 2, 2014

‘Longhorn’ soldiers return to Fort Hood from Afghanistan

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:30 am

WEST FORT HOOD — Sarah Beasley was surprised by her husband’s deployment, but she used the five months he spent in Afghanistan to improve herself mentally and physically.

The couple arrived at Fort Hood in October and Spc. Andre Beasley joined his unit, the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, in Afghanistan in February.

“I felt like I was being hit by a bus,” she said of learning about his deployment.

During that time, Beasley took college classes and hit the gym six days a week, losing 25 pounds. She also learned to drive for the first time in her life.

“I’m excited for date nights,” she said, noting that weekends were the hardest time to be alone in a new place. “Also just him being in the house to watch a marathon of Netflix with me.”

She stood Tuesday afternoon in the West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Center among the friends and family members of 30 other “Longhorn” Battalion soldiers, as they awaited the final flight of the unit to return home. About 103 soldiers have returned over the previous days.

The family of Spc. Terrence Keesling waited for his return after serving the full nine months downrange with the battalion.

“I’m so excited for him,” said Sicilia Keesling, whose husband and brother-in-law both retired at Fort Hood. She also has a son in the Navy and another in the Marines, but Terrence Keesling was the first of her children to deploy.

“When your husband is deployed, you feel one way, but when it’s your son, it feels totally different,” Keesling said.

She was more than happy to travel from Austin for the welcome-home ceremony, which she said is always exciting.

“I’ve done this so many times,” Keesling said. “It’s like no one is ever the same. I always have butterflies and anxiety.”

The battalion served in Regional Command East providing intelligence across the area of operations, said Lt. Col. Samuel E. Fiol, battalion commander.

“Overall, it went very well,” he said of the mission. Fiol said family support contributed to this success.

“It was your support back on the homefront that has allowed us to focus on our mission in Afghanistan and for this we are extremely grateful,” he said. “Be proud of what these soldiers contributed.”

Andre Beasley told his wife now that he’s home, he wants to get some sleep and enjoy a pizza.

“I’m so proud of him. I’m proud of all the soldiers,” Sarah Beasley said. “I’m happy he’s home.”

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