Wagonmasters start returning home
By Cpl. Jessica Hampton
15th Sust. Bde. Public Affairs
“Bus driver, move that bus!” was what family and friends chanted as empty buses moved to reveal a special surprise – more than 200 Soldiers from the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) returning home from Iraq.
At about 2 a.m. May 30, the crowd cheered, danced and cried as they witnessed Soldiers they hadn’t seen in nine months march across the brigade’s parking lot to the beat of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, May 30.
Kimberly Gimble, wife of Staff Sgt. Stuart Gimble, a platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, said that she was not able to see him during the deployment. The welcome home been a long time coming, she added.
“We didn’t get an R and R, so I am really excited to see him for the first time since September,” she said.
After the welcome home ceremony and the uncasing of the brigade’s colors were over, the time to greet their loved ones had finally arrived for the Wagonmasters who had traveled more than 48 hours to get home.
“Families, what are you waiting for?” asked Col. Larry Phelps, the brigade commander. “Go get your Soldier!”
The excitement and confusion filled the hot night air, as waves of troops and families merged.
Many Soldiers, such as Gimble, found their families quickly.
“I was super excited that my first reaction was to just jump,” said Kim of the moment she saw her husband and leaped into his arms. “I couldn’t contain myself,” she added.
The reunion was not that easy for some, and even comical for others.
“She went one way and I went to her desk,” said Sgt. Ronreco Foster, an automated logistics specialist with HHC, 15th STB. Foster, who is married to Staff Sgt. Jo Ann Foster, rear detachment administration noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said that he knew she would probably be at her desk, so he went inside to surprise her, but not before he made a quick “pit-stop.”
“I did look for her, I promise,” he said. “I just missed that first reaction, because there was a slight chance that when she squeezed me, I would literally wet myself.”
Foster said that when he finally got to see his wife, it was an event that he would tell his grandchildren about.
“I walked around the corner. She walked around the corner and we ran smack right into each other,” he said. “I had to do a double-take just to make sure it was her before I gave her the biggest hug.”
Phelps said that, since deploying to Iraq in September, the Wagonmasters were responsible for more than 7,000 Soldiers within 12 battalions; traveled more than six million miles and provided support for 72 percent of the theater … from Basra to Harbur Gate.
“My focus is now on the two most important words in the English language,” he told the troops and their families, “and that is thank you.”
More welcome home ceremonies for the Wagonmasters are projected for mid-June and again in late July. The ceremonies will be in front of the brigade’s headquarters building on 62nd Street and 761st Tank Battalion Avenue. The public is invited to attend.
Times are subject to change. Family members and friends can call the Wagonmasters redeployment hotline at 287-1130 or go to www.supporttheaction.net and click on “Upcoming Events” for the latest updated information.
Colonel Larry Phelps and Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel J. Bartee Sr., the command team for the 15th Sust. Bde., uncase the unit’s colors before hundreds assembled at the brigade headquarters building May 30. Sgt. 1st Class Erick Ritterby, 4th Sust. Bde. Public Affairs
Kimberly Gimble, wife of Staff Sgt. Stuart Gimble, a platoon sergeant with HHC, 15th STB, 15th Sust. Bde., jumps into her husband’s arms at a welcome home ceremony at Fort Hood May 30. Cpl. Jessica Hampton, 15th Sust. Bde. Public Affairs