WEST FORT HOOD — Despite the blustery winter weather, the spirit inside the West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Center was warm with excitement Sunday evening.

Nearly 200 soldiers from III Corps and 3rd Cavalry Regiment returned to Fort Hood just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Capt. Jason Dillon, III Corps Headquarters Support Company rear detachment commander, had positive remarks on the homecoming. The soldiers were returning from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan, where they assisted local security forces.

“We had a few bumps in the road along the way,” he said, “but we made sure the families were taken care of. Communication was the utmost focus — we had a great battle rhythm.”

He described the mission as a success, with the soldiers returning about five months earlier than originally intended.

It was the second deployment for the Owens family. Geraldine Owens held neon green and orange signs for her husband, alongside her 15-month-old twins, John and Sophia.

The toddlers, now more used to communicating with their father through technology than in-person, would yell “Daddy!” every time the phone rang, she said. Their sign read “Look how big we got!”

Sgt. 1st Class Willie Walker, III Corps, had a whole entourage waiting for him. Along with his wife, Mahaley Walker, and 7-year-old son, six more family members welcomed him home, including siblings, aunts and grandparents.

The group wore matching shirts with Walker’s face emblazoned across the front.

It was their fourth deployment, Mahaley Walker said. “But it was the shortest, so I can’t complain.”

“It feels great (to be home),” Willie Walker said.

Mahaley Walker felt “much better,” she said with a smile, once her husband was safely in her arms.

Contact Madison Lozano​ at mlozano@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7552.

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