GOOD HOPE —
U.S. Army Capt. Heath Brown has three children, but until Monday afternoon, he’d only met two of them.
The Aiken, South Carolina native spent the past year in Afghanistan on military deployment, but finally got to meet his infant son Christian when Charlie Company returned home Monday.
“It’s just awesome,” Brown said, holding Christian, with his other two children nearby. “I missed these guys so much. They’re my family, and it’s so hard being away.”
Brown was among approximately 105 soldiers serving with Charlie Company, the 4th Alabama 1-167th National Guard Infantry unit in Afghanistan on security and combat missions over the past year. The soldiers returned home to the armory in Good Hope early Monday afternoon, where hundreds of their families and friends were waiting with posters, signs and balloons.
Upon their return, Sgt. Major Doug Witt thanked the soldiers for their service and commended them for the job they had done.
“They were sent to many different locations, but completed all of their assigned tasks in an outstanding manner,” he said. “They conducted over 200 missions, and traveled over 10,000 miles in Afghanistan. No matter what your rank, it took each and every one of you doing your job.”
After reconnecting with his family, Staff Sgt. Daniel Caldwell took a moment to applaud the efforts of the men under his command while overseas.
“I deployed as a platoon staff sergeant, and had 24 soldiers under my command,” the Harvest-native said. “They accomplished every mission and did so much more than I could ever ask.”
Holding signs welcoming home her grandson D.J., Mary Turpen made the trip over from Florence to be among the first to see him step off the bus.
“We’re so excited,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”
Shea Clark, of Mount Olive, was standing roadside watching for the bus to finally see her best friend and brother-in-law once again. The two have been deployed for more than a year.
“There are so many emotions, and it’s just so exciting that it’s finally here,” Clark said. “I’m just beyond thrilled for them to finally be home.”
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.