Twenty-two Soldiers of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived at Fort Hood, Texas Dec. 17 after being deployed to Kuwait as a part of the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) - and 21 of those Soldiers arrived in Madison, Wisconsin Dec. 20 to waiting families and friends.
Maj. John Brosius, BDOC commander, remained behind at Fort Hood to finish up demobilization administrative details while the rest of the returning Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers went ahead to Wisconsin.
Brosius said his Soldiers spent the last nine months overseas augmenting the Area Support Group and the U.S. Army missions in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.
"There were a lot of opportunities to grow as individuals in areas that we weren't always comfortable with," he said.
Maj. Gwen Allen agreed. At the homecoming ceremony Dec. 20, she described how the BDOC provided life support operations for more than 16,000 personnel spanning several bases, while also upholding the defense cooperation agreement with Kuwait.
"We were assigned new positions - and unfamiliar ones - that gave us the opportunity to step up to a challenge," Allen said. "And every Soldier took that challenge and grew in those positions. Our Wisconsin Soldiers excelled in ensuring that every Soldier that came into the country of Kuwait had the best service so they could focus on their mission as well.
"I could not count the number of times higher command would comment on Wisconsin Soldiers' exceptional work ethic and strong Army values," Allen continued.
Brosius said the deployment was very rewarding.
"We grew a lot," he said. "Now we're looking forward to getting back to Wisconsin and to our families, especially for the holiday season."
Sgt. Mackenzie Miller, BDOC director of installation support operations noncommissioned officer, was pleased to arrive at Fort Hood.
"It feels good to be back by familiar things," she said, "but it almost feels like we're not going home yet - but I can't wait. I'm looking forward to getting home and continuing my education and my civilian career."
Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's senior enlisted advisor, reminded the returning Soldiers that their reintegration process continued.
"Be kind to each other - be understanding," Shields said. "Do everything in moderation, and enjoy your time reuniting. I believe the mobilization of our Soldiers is harder on the families than it is on the Soldiers."
Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, deputy adjutant general for Army, noted that he had welcomed the BDOC Soldiers upon their arrival at Fort Hood.
"It's one thing to come back to the continental U.S.," Anderson said. "It's another to come back to the land of beer, brats and cheese."
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, and Gov. Scott Walker praised the Soldiers for their collective efforts during their deployment and for representing Wisconsin with distinction. Walker noted that he had left a holiday engagement at the Executive Residence to welcome home the BDOC Soldiers.
"There's no way I would miss this, especially if it means getting you home with your families in time for Christmas," Walker said.
"It's not a surprise that when folks overseas are talking about Soldiers doing great things, they're talking about Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers," Dunbar said.
Allen summed up the appreciation expressed in Madison.
"I am proud to serve with every single one of you," she said. "It's so good to be home. Engage Forward."
Vaughn R. Larson of the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs contributed to this report.