“I’m so glad he’s back on American soil,” said Tamara Moore about an hour before her husband, Spc. Rick Moore, arrived with the other Indiana National Guard Soldiers at the Col. H. Weir Cook terminal. Other Soldiers’ family members shared the emotional relief as they waited in anticipation.
“I know I’ll be ready to cry when I see him,” said Sophia Render about an hour before her brother arrived. Her brother is Spc. Jessie Miller, a force protection specialist with the brigade’s headquarters company. For many the homecoming was a time of celebration, a time of reflection, and a time to look forward and share burdens instead of dealing with them individually.
“It’s a big relief just knowing he’s back as my sidekick, my partner. I don’t have to be a single parent anymore,” said Tamara.
One pastor who was there to support members of his congregation noted the same thing. “Military spouses wear so many different hats while their loved ones are away,” said Jeff Alexander pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Greenwood, Ind. where Danielle and Sgt. 1st Class Philip Frazier of Bargersville, Ind. attend church. The Soldiers were relieved and happy to be back among family again, too.
“It’s great to be back. It’s the freedom, and seeing everyone, and having all these people here; it’s really nice,” said Sgt. Jamie Johnson of Shelbyville, Ind. She’s a telecommunications noncommissioned officer with the brigade’s headquarters company.
“It’s awesome to see my wife and hold her hand and get hugs from my children,” said Rick Moore. The Moore’s of Noblesville, Ind. are parents of four children – Joshua, 14; Micah, 11; Hannah; 10 and Daniel, 8. According to Tamara, Joshua is about seven inches taller now than when Rick left.
“I use to look down, now I have to look a bit farther up,” said Rick of his five-foot, eight-inch son. Rick stated he recognized his son when Joshua tapped him on the shoulder, but it took him aback to see how much his son had grown. “Somehow I just realized it was him,” he said.
While Solders missed some changes like a growth spurt of a son or the birth of a nephew, like Spc. Kayla Nier did, it was also a time of reflection for the Soldiers, and a time to take stock of their work during the nine-month deployment.
“I’m proud of my teammates and the 76th Brigade,” said Miller. “We did good things over there.”
According to Miller, some of those good things were route security, base security and helping with the Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone program that helps build and sustain the Iraqi economy.
“I can’t help but think, in talking with Iraqis, that we are helping them,” said Moore, an administration support specialist with the brigade. He also mentioned the IBIZ program. “That’s a huge part of it, trying to build that base (the Iraqi economy).
The family members were also proud of the Soldiers.
“I didn’t know how important our Soldiers were in Iraq until he went,” said Render of her brother. “They’re really sacrificing their lives, and they’re so unselfish, so giving, they’re just unbelievable,” she said.
Now it’s time for one last step in their journey. The 100 Citizen-Soldiers travelled to Camp Atterbury to complete reintegration into civilian life. They will spend up to five days undergoing complete physical health assessments as well as screening and counseling for possible post traumatic stress issues. Then it will finally be time to reconnect with family and share their lives again at home.