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Returning Fort Carson troops greeted by families, wounded comrade

FORT CARSON, Colo. — For Spc. Bryan Galvan, the most painful part of being wounded in combat was parting ways with his fellow soldiers.

“I was upset because I was leaving them sooner than I wanted to,” said Galvan, an infantryman who was shot in the abdomen May 11 while serving in Afghanistan with the 4th Brigade Combat Team.

On Thursday, Galvan reunited with some of them at a Fort Carson homecoming ceremony for 230 soldiers.

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In the spring, 3,000 thousand of the brigade’s soldiers deployed to eastern Afghanistan.

They spent the past nine months working with the Afghan National Security Forces, assisting in the distribution of 124,000 pounds of food and aid products to locals displaced by fighting in Nuristan and Laghman provinces.

Of those who deployed, 71, including Galvan, were awarded the Purple Heart.

As his comrades stood at attention Thursday, Galvan marched to rejoin them in formation.

“It’s been hard knowing they’re still out there in danger while I’m back here, not able to do something,” Galvan said. “This is great. They’re safe as well.”

Nathan Tone, 6, and his brother, Colton, 3, were at the ceremony awaiting the return of their father, Maj. Daniel Tone. The boys’ mom, Lauren, had dressed them in fatigues to match their father.

“He gives me hugs and plays Wii with me,” said Nathan when asked what he missed the most about his father.

Also waiting for a loved one was Victoria Drake, 17.

As her brother, Sgt. Tony Smith, caught up with family members after the ceremony, Drake sobbed in the arms of a family member.

They were tears of relief.

Though Smith has deployed three times, family members hadn’t been able to make it to a homecoming ceremony until Thursday.

Drake called the brigade’s nine-month deployment “heart-wrenching.”

“Not knowing what was going to happen was really hard,” she said. “You never get used to him being shot at.”

Drake, who lives with her family in Broomfield, said she was looking forward to Smith resuming his routine of visiting on the weekends.

As soldiers and family members streamed out of the Special Events Center, Galvan lagged behind, looking for familiar faces.

He said he’ll attend every homecoming ceremony, no matter the time of day or night, until all of his comrades are home.

“I’ll be here,” he said. “I just want to be sure my family members are all home safely.”
 

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