Family, friends gather as Dagger Brigade returns from war zone
October 23, 2007
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Spc. Samuel Kannegaard agreed to stop hugging and kissing his wife, Nikki, for a minute.
Long enough to say of his time in Iraq, “You never realize the stuff you take for granted.”
Sunday saw Kannegaard and 125 other soldiers with Task Force Blue Spader, made up primarily of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, return from Iraq after more than a year in the heart of Baghdad.
They marched proudly into Finney Recreation Center on Conn Barracks. Scores more Spader soldiers were due to arrive early Tuesday morning.
“I can’t even describe it; I wish I could,” Kannegaard, a member of the 1-26’s Company C, said of being home.
Beaming, his wife said having her husband of two years home was “the best thing ever.”
For Spc. David Hillmer, of Company B, 9th Engineer Battalion, it was the first time he’d seen his wife, Samira, since they were married in February while he was on leave.
When Hillmer deployed Aug. 5 last year, it was his second time from Schweinfurt. “It’s good to be home,” he simply said.
Another 9th Engineer soldier, Spc. Mark Ailshire, a mechanic from Missouri, said he’d remember quite a bit about his time in Baghdad, “though I can’t say much about it right now.” Ailshire, who is single, was surrounded by friends.
Tyler, Texas, native Spc. Samuel Lawson, who along with many of the men to his left and right spent his deployment in the rough Adhamiyah district of Iraq’s capital, said, “I’m happy I made it out alive.”
Lawson’s platoon, part of Company C, lost two of its brothers in arms. One of them, Spc. Ross McGinnis, has been recommended for the Medal of Honor.
“I’ll remember the brothers I lost,” Lawson said. “I’ll remember being part of a family. That’s what we were — a family.”
As fast as they arrived, the 126 soldiers were soon gone, off to be with friends and loved ones, off to sleep, off to buy a cold beer across the street.
The more than 4,000 Schweinfurt-based soldiers from 2nd “Dagger” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, will be returning over the next several weeks.