Soldiers reunite with families after 9-month deployment

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of a photographer’s error, Eve Williams was misidentified in captions in Tuesday’s edition of The Augusta Chronicle. She is the wife of Spc. Jamie Williams.

 

The Chronicle regrets the error.

One by one, soldiers from the 35th Tactical Signal Brigade entered into the Cyber Fitness Center and marched into formation as family members clapped and cheered.

The soldiers, part of the 67th Signal Battalion, were reunited at Fort Gordon with their loved ones after serving at Camp Arifijan in Kuwait for nine months.

Capt. Elana Bell, 38, hadn’t seen her mother, fiancé, oldest daughter and grandchildren since December. They embraced her with long hugs.

“We’re so excited,” Mary Flohr, the soldier’s mother, said Monday. “And so proud.”

Bell, who had deployed three times prior to the nine-month assignment, was very enthusiastic about the diligent work of her soldiers and their safe return.

“I’m excited and delighted to bring all of them home safely,” she said. “I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

She plans to stay with her family at Fort Gordon until their move in March 2018 to a base in Kansas.

Once the ceremony ended, attendees piled onto the floor of the gymnasium to hand off flowers, balloons and shared large signs expressing their joy for the safe return.

Aliyah Parker held onto a bouquet of flowers and balloons as she anxiously waited to see her mother, Spc. Saimone Parker. It’s the first deployment the 8-year-old and her younger brother, Jamar Jr., have experienced.

“I thought about all the good times me and mommy had,” she said.

Parker, whose aunt, uncle and sister traveled from South Carolina to welcome her homeMonday, said her next step is to work on getting a promotion.

“I’m going to stay here and work on getting my promotional status to sergeant,” she said.

Also hoping to remain at the base was Spc. Mitchell Lipscomb and his wife. Lipscomb was stationed overseas prior to the nine-month deployment.

During Monday’s ceremony, the specialist reunited with his autistic son. As the two played, his wife said she is looking forward to readjusting as a family. The couple also have a 6-year-old daughter whom they planned to surprise at school.

“This will be our first time living together as a family, so I’m excited,” she said.

His mother, Kim, who stood by with her husband and watched as the couple reunited, held the soldier in a tight hug. She said she was very glad to see he was safe.

“I don’t want to let go of him,” she said. “He has had several close calls.”

 

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