FORT HOOD — Since Sgt. Ryan Lucas deployed to Afghanistan nine months ago, his son has grown 14 pounds and 7 inches.
Born premature on July 4, Bradley Lucas spent 87 days at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, before Lucas and his wife, Victoria, could bring their baby home.
About a month later, the medic deployed with 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
“It’s amazing,” he said of Bradley’s growth. “It’s a ginormous difference. He’s got fat cheeks and red hair.”
The sergeant was one of 97 soldiers to return to Fort Hood on Thursday after a security force assistance mission in Afghanistan’s Regional Command-East. The “Long Knife” Brigade trained Afghan National Security Forces to be able to take control of operations by the end of 2014.
As an advanced party flight, these soldiers — along with 78 who returned in the early morning hours Thursday — will set the conditions for the 1,000 Long Knife soldiers still downrange to return home over the next month, said Capt. Ben Agnor, the brigade’s rear detachment operations officer.
“They did a great job while they were deployed and I’m happy to have them back home,” he said.
During the ceremony on Cooper Field, Kristin Boyd sat calmly in the stands while waiting for her husband to return from his eighth deployment.
In 12 years of marriage, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Boyd has been home with her for four, having spent time in Iraq, Turkey, Bosnia, Kosovo and now Afghanistan.
Despite the hardships, she said communication and routine keep their marriage strong.
“If you don’t keep the communication going between spouses, it doesn’t work,” she said.
For the Lucas family, they are planning plenty of family time.
“It’s so great,” Ryan Lucas said of being home. “It really makes it all worthwhile.”
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.