FORT HOOD — Nearly 70 Fort Hood soldiers were greeted by beaming smiles, tears of joy and welcoming arms as the headquarters element for the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade returned from a nine-month deployment in the Middle East on Saturday morning.
The homecoming ceremony had more 200 friends and family members who expressed collective happiness to see their deployed loved ones for the first time since last May.
Temple resident Abby Brito, 30, and her two young children Clara, 3, and Callen, 1, were there to welcome her husband, Staff Sgt. Matthew Brito.
Abby Brito said having her husband deployed for nine months was extremely difficult.
“The experience was horrible, I hope he never has to leave again. It was the longest nine months of my life,” she said. “Our son (Callen) doesn’t understand what’s going on, but my daughter (Clara) every morning would ask for her daddy, so that was definitely hard to deal with while he’s been away.”
The mother said she missed the fun weekend trips that their family would take together.
Staff Sgt. Brito was glad to be home.
“Being home with my family is exciting, I can’t even put my feelings in to words,” he said.
With the soldier’s son being only 7-month-old when he left, Brito said he looks forward to reconnecting with his son and creating an even stronger bond than they had when he left on deployment.
“I was little worried he (Callen) may not recognize me at first, but he (Callen) gave me some kisses, he’s in my arms, so that good enough for me,” the soldier said.
The headquarters unit provided command and control for other units deployed to the area. The unit did not disclose which specific country it was deployed to.
Read more about the brigade’s mission in Wednesday’s Fort Hood Herald.