• December 20, 2014

300 soldiers back home after Iraq deployment

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Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rose L. Thayer

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD - In the front row of the bleachers at Cooper Field stood a line of people wearing Cookie Monster T-shirts.

"We've done it all three deployments," said Betsy O'Hair, as she stood waiting with her parents, in-laws and 2-year-old son for her husband, Spc. Gary "Cookie" O'Hair, to return from Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

"We picked Cookie Monster so he could see us," said O'Hair of the play on her husband's nickname. "These shirts have been through it."

Jane and Dan O'Hair also have made it to each of their son's homecoming ceremonies.

"It's wonderful," said Dan O'Hair. "We're very proud of him. The work they do over there is very different."

Gary O'Hair quickly found his family dressed all in blue among the other 300 soldiers and their families.

"I found my daddy!" shouted his son, Warren, to everyone who passed by.

"It's the best feeling in the world," said Gary O'Hair, of holding his son for the first time in months. "I've been looking forward to it the whole two weeks I was in Kuwait."

In February, the Chargers deployed to Contingency Operating Base Basrah where they transitioned operations to what will be the largest consulate in the world, said Lt. Col. Andrew Poznick, battalion commander. This was the fourth time the battalion has deployed to Iraq, and Poznick's second.

"It provided me and a lot of soldiers with closure," he said. "I'm glad our soldiers accomplished what we set out to do."

For the O'Hairs, it's just a relief to know their soldier won't be deploying again in a year.

"We've been together five years and he's been gone for three," said Betsy O'Hair. "We'll be complete."

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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