Fort Gordon welcomes back troops from Iraq

Michael Holahan/Staff
Girlfriend Ashley Larocha (left) and mother Susan Schwenn embrace as Spc. Michael Johnson arrives at Fort Gordon. The women flew from Wisconsin to greet Johnson on Monday as he returned from Iraq.
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When Army Spc. Michael Johnson went through boot camp, his mother saved every letter.

Sgt. Ryan Smith greets his daughter, Kensleigh, and wife, Brandi. Smith and more than 100 other troops had been in Iraq for a year.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Sgt. Ryan Smith greets his daughter, Kensleigh, and wife, Brandi. Smith and more than 100 other troops had been in Iraq for a year.

Gallery: Troops come home

She talked to him via Skype while he was deployed in Iraq, and she worried during communication blackouts, which are used for security purposes or when a soldier has been killed.

On Monday, Susan Schwenn finally got to hug her son.

“Oh, my God, words can’t describe it,” she said, with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes.

Fort Gordon on Monday welcomed home more than 100 soldiers from Bravo Company of the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion.

The troops had been deployed for a year, during which time they provided communications support for an Army regiment in southern Iraq. It was the fourth time since 2003 the battalion, or elements of it, had been sent to the Middle East.

As the returning soldiers filed into the gymnasium and formed up one last time, they remained composed. A welcoming crowd of about 300 friends and family members did not. They sprang to their feet, cheered, clapped, and waved signs and flags.

There was a short speech, the national anthem, a prayer and a moment of silence in remembrance of fallen comrades. Then Bravo Company heard the words, “You’re dismissed,” and both soldiers and well-wishers fell into one another’s arms.

Maj. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon, attended the welcome home ceremony and said he does so as often as he is able.

“It’s important they know that leadership cares, and we do care,” Lynn said. “We are here to support them, no matter what happens.”

For Johnson, 21, the yearlong deployment was his first.

“Being away from family is the hardest part,” he said. “You can talk to people over the Internet, but with the time difference, sometimes you’re up at 2 or 3 in the morning.”

After the ceremony, Sgt. Deshonne Roscoe immediately collected his 8-month-old son, Deshonne Jr., in his right arm and his 3-year-old daughter, Alexccia, in his left. He smiled and spoke quietly, touching nose to nose with her.

“She missed him,” said Roscoe’s wife, Gloria. “She kept saying, ‘Where is my daddy? I think I see my daddy.’ ”

Roscoe said what he wants most is to spend time with his family. He had seen Deshonne Jr. only one time before Monday, during a two-week break.

Sgt. Reginald Houston also planned to spend his time home reconnecting with his wife and 13-year-old son. As Bravo’s first sergeant, Houston directed company operations in Iraq.

“Bringing them home is like the greatest thing,” he said. “They are an outstanding group. I’d go from here to h-e-l-l for them.”

Comments (13) Add comment
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AnotherOneBitesTheDust
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AnotherOneBitesTheDust 08/15/11 - 12:28 pm
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THANK YOU ALL for your

THANK YOU ALL for your selfless service and welcome home

BamaMan
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BamaMan 08/15/11 - 12:48 pm
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Okay, I admit it, I'm a

Okay, I admit it, I'm a tender heart. But I cry everytime I see these, and I don't know any of them. There's a show now with Billie Ray Cyrus that I make sure I have kleenix for. Thank you to all the service men and women for working tirelessly to keep our great country safe.

Jane18
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Jane18 08/15/11 - 01:41 pm
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There are so many of us that

There are so many of us that do not have a family member in the military(not here at Ft.Gordon anyway), and, I for one would love to know when our heroes return...Maybe, just maybe, we would like to welcome them home and say, "thank you!"

Frank I
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Frank I 08/15/11 - 01:41 pm
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and thank you to their

and thank you to their families that sacrifice as well...

doglover123
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doglover123 08/15/11 - 02:43 pm
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BIG coudos to the Family

BIG coudos to the Family Readiness Group leader, Alyssa, for keeping the families informed during the deployment. You are the BEST!!!

doglover123
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doglover123 08/15/11 - 03:33 pm
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Jane18, I'm sure they would

Jane18, I'm sure they would REALLY appreciate that, but it is considered "troop movements" and for safety reasons, they need to keep it "hush-hush". The families don't even know for sure until just a day or two in advance, and even then they don't have an exact time. They are just told "Be at the gym at __:__am/pm and they are expected to arrive within this 4 hour time-frame." I know this from experience, having been through it 3 years ago when the entire 63rd ESB returned from Iraq after a 15-month deployment.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 08/15/11 - 03:52 pm
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HOOAHHH! Glad you all are

HOOAHHH!

Glad you all are home safe.

pai
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pai 02/16/12 - 01:22 pm
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:

:

Dixieman
14466
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Dixieman 08/16/11 - 05:29 am
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THANK YOU!

THANK YOU!

jvburner
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jvburner 08/16/11 - 06:52 am
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It seems the unit didn't find

It seems the unit didn't find it necessary to remember my husband, even though he was the only Soldier in their Company to pass away. There were slide shows and pictures of the Soldiers, but none of my husband, it's like he didn't exist. I know this was a welcome home ceremony, but what about the Soldiers and their families that paid the ultimate sacrifice? Is it too much to ask to honor them?

rrmuffin
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rrmuffin 08/16/11 - 07:14 am
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i am glad that you have made

i am glad that you have made it home safe,but the job is not complete until all are home safe my prayers are fot those who gave their all ,and thank you all for your service to your country and us the ones you keep safe

alsteve
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alsteve 08/16/11 - 07:38 am
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“It’s important they know

“It’s important they know that leadership cares, and we do care,” Lynn said. “We are here to support them, no matter what happens.”

Major Lynn - you support them no matter what happens -- What about the soldier that this unit lost and his widow was invited to the ceremony because he was going to be honored? There was not a picture of him and not a word mentioned? I don't call that support -- once again the command of this unit has dropped the ball.

doglover123
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doglover123 08/16/11 - 09:09 am
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I'm not familiar with this

I'm not familiar with this new Battalion Commander, but I'm sure that if LT COL Edmonson had been here, SGT Burner would have been honored. They should be ashamed of themselves!

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