FORT HOOD — When Staff Sgt. Waylon Wren left formation and started walking toward his wife and son, he said he fell in love at first sight again.

“It was amazing,” said the medic stationed overseas at Camp Arifjan. “It’s great to be back with my wife and my son.”

Wren was among the 500 soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, who returned Saturday night after a yearlong deployment to Kuwait.

The Lightning Brigade’s mission “guarding the skies” was to provide air and missile defense coverage for the central command area of operation at several locations in Kuwait, said Lt. Col. Bill Dowling, 4th Battalion commander.

“We were 100 percent successful (with that mission),” he said.

There were no fatalities during the deployment and Dowling said it feels great to have everybody back at Fort Hood.

“We’re just thankful that we brought home everyone safe and alive,” he said. “It’s wonderful to reunite with families like this. I couldn’t be happier.”

Maj. Matthew Mercadante, rear detachment commander for the battalion, said it takes a collective effort to pull off a mission like the one the troops executed in Kuwait.

“All the soldiers, they worked very hard,” he said. “They didn’t have hardly any time off and that’s why they’re excited about (being home).”

Wren’s wife, Staff Sgt. Martha Wren, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, was overflowing with emotions when she saw her husband.

“I have no words right now,” she said. “I’m just happy.”

Waylon Wren was able to stay in the U.S. for the birth of his son in November 2011 and join his unit overseas in January. Back at “The Great Place,” he looks forward to making up for lost time with the couple’s 11-month-old son, Wesley.

“He doesn’t even know who I am,” Wren said. “I definitely missed watching my son grow.”

The couple talked on the phone weekly and video chatted every other week, but it wasn’t the same as holding and seeing his son in person.

“My son just looks at the computer and I’m not sure if he’s (seeing his dad or) just seeing an image, or what his eyes as a baby sees,” Martha Wren said. “What I’m looking forward to most is seeing (Waylon) and our son interact and seeing how amazing of a dad he’s going to be.”

Home in time for the holidays, the couple will continue to build their life together.

“It’s going to be our first Thanksgiving as a family, then Christmas and the holidays,” Waylon Wren said. “I’m looking forward to raising my son and starting our own family traditions.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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