39th Transportation Battalion returns from Bagram
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The guys at the post office have gotten to know Staff Sgt. Amy Brundidge pretty well.
Over the last nine months, she’s been there three days a week — every day the post office is open — to mail care packages to her husband, Master Sgt. Ronald Brundidge, in Afghanistan.
Holding their 1-year-old daughter Kiara in her arms while their 3-year-old Avaya sprinted around a gym decorated for the 39th Transportation Battalion’s homecoming, she said it’s a routine she’s definitely not going to miss.
“Both of us are active duty, so it’s challenging being active duty and then being a single parent as well once he leaves. It’s hard to keep up with.”
After nine months at Bagram Airfield, more than 40 soldiers of the 39th marched into the gym Saturday evening at Kleber Kaserne to the deafening cheers of their families, many of which have endured numerous deployments over the last dozen years.
Deployments don’t get any easier through repetition, Master Sgt. Stephine Bellinger, a member of the 30th Medical Command, said just before her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Gussie Bellinger, marched in. Together they’ve deployed nine times.
As their 6-year-old son Kameron sat patiently, she said what she looked forward to most was just having her husband around. “Just to hold his hand. Days when I need that extra support, you know, just knowing that he’s back and I’ve got my rock back.”
Only a headquarters element of the 39th deployed, but their mission in Afghanistan covered the whole country. The unit supported 80 percent of all transportation in the country, including a nearly $1 billion trucking contract to supply coalition forces with food, fuel and supplies. They also had a hefty role in managing the retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan as the war there winds down.
Jewlee Knapp, wife of the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Michael Knapp, said she was comforted by the fact that her husband’s job mostly kept him pinned to a desk.
He’d deployed four times before — to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa — and there were times when she asked him not to tell her what his days were like.
Compared to those deployments, “It was good. It actually was good,” she said.
After a short ceremony, the anxiety of nine months was released in a rush as soldiers and their families raced across the gap between them.
“My God, it’s indescribable,” battalion chaplain Capt. Brian Rivers said as he released his fiancee, Amy Adams, from a bear hug. “When I saw her face I was just floored. She’s the most beautiful creature on Earth today to me — every day. But after nine months, my God, I’m overwhelmed. I don’t even have words to describe it.”