By Joy Boisselle and Rafi Grant Staff Writers
More than 1,100 Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team received a hero’s welcome at Wheeler Army Air Field between Feb. 11 - 17.
Arriving Feb. 11, Lt. Col. David Miller, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, commander, led the Soldiers to the hangar ceremony where banner-waving families and friends enthusiastically greeted their arrival.
Reflecting on the battalion’s mission, he said, “All units in Iraq
did a fantastic job. Our unit’s mission was a little different; we
ended up being a rapid deployment-force or reserve-force for the 1st
Infantry Division and the MMCI Corps and because of that, we covered a
lot of ground in Iraq.
“We were the unit that deployed to the most hotspots as they occurred. And, our unit did the whole spectrum from combat operations to stability and support.”
The Golden Dragon’s exploits included operations in Najaf, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Samarra, all areas of unrest and instability when the battalion arrived.
“We moved around so much and did so many different things in areas all over Iraq. One of the milestones of our deployment was securing the city of Samarra for the Iraqi people.
“We fought the enemy, retook the city from the militia, and gave it back to the Iraqi people,” Miller said.
As for the extension, Spc. Andrew Field, Co. A, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Rgt., said, “The time in Iraq was hard, being away from my fiance for 13 months, but the highlight [for me] was definitely the election day, seeing the Iraqi people casting their vote for the first time in years.”
“It made it worthwhile and it kind of capstoned the entire year of rebuilding and helping to provide a future for the Iraqi people,” Miller added.
Combat was only part of the battalion’s mission.
“We did a lot of stability support, rebuilding the Iraqi security force, the Iraqi National Guard, and the police. We carried out civilian affairs projects helping to improve the infrastructure.
“All this was carried out by our Soldiers, making a huge difference in the lives of the Iraqi people.”
With wife, Gina, by his side, Miller concluded, “The hardest thing of the entire year was being separated from family and friends.”
That sentiment echoed among Soldiers, families, and friends eagerly awaiting the ceremony’s end.
Sgt. Brandon Eans, HHC, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Rgt., one of many new fathers, said, “The deployment was an experience.
“I am just so happy to be with my family again, to see Shelly [my wife] and our baby, Isabella.
“I was [on R&R] when Isabelle was born. Now, I am going to get to spend quality time with my family.”
Capt. Jim Pangelinan, Co. A, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Rgt., reuniting with his girlfriend, Jessie Reese, said simply, “I am proud of all the Soldiers in our unit, we did a great job.”