FORT HOOD — Spc. Tony Ficca’s daughter, Rylee, was born during his first deployment to Iraq in 2010. This year, he missed hearing her learn to speak while he was deployed to Afghanistan.

“(Rylee) knows he’s coming home but I don’t think she gets the concept of how long he’s actually been gone,” said Ficca’s wife, Summer. “It’s harder on him than anybody else because he missed those milestones. When he left, she wasn’t talking, now she’s (making) full sentences.”

Ficca, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was among more than 285 soldiers in the brigade who were reunited with their families Saturday during a homecoming ceremony at Cooper Field.

During the ceremony, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, uncased its colors, signifying a safe return home after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Stationed at Regional Command East, Lt. Col. Jose L. Polanco, 1st squadron commander, said the soldiers did an “incredible job” advising the Afghan National Security Forces, including the country’s Army and police, to help the country provide better hope and future for its people.

“They did a tremendous job in theater supporting our Afghan partners, making them better at their jobs and hence why we see what we’ve seen this summer where the Afghans are taking the lead,” Polanco said. “As one synchronized team, (the brigade was) ... able to help them take the lead in the development of hospitals and schools and more civic projects for their people.”

Soldiers learned a lot as they worked closely with Afghans.

“For some of us old-timers, we’ve done this a few times and we’ve been able to answer the call for our nation, (but) we felt that this was a unique experience because the Afghans are different,” Polanco said. “Their culture is different and they’re special and unique in their own nature. ... They want to improve the lives of their people so it was a great experience for me and the soldiers. It’s just been an incredible journey.”

After a successful mission in Afghanistan, Tony Ficca looks forward to spending time with his daughters.

“It’s great. It’s good to be back with my family,” he said. “I’ve missed out on a lot.”

Summer Ficca added, “We just have a whole lot of catching up to do.”

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

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.