Fort Drum aviators return from European deployment

Maj. Derek Martin, center, embraces his children, daughter Alex, 6, left, and son Connor, 9, after a homecoming ceremony for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Drum, Wednesday.


By GORDON BLOCK | The Watertown Daily Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 20, 2017

FORT DRUM — After nine months away from home, Sgt. Justin Flynn said he was “ecstatic” about being back in the north country. After he and other soldiers took part in aviation operations across Europe, the sergeant said he wanted to make up for missed quality time.

“It’s been a long time,” he said, looking at his wife Marayda and son Alenier, 5. “He’s grown so much since I’ve been gone.”

Flynn said her son regularly asked when his dad was coming back, and she missed her husband as she waited to hear that her relatives were safe following heavy storms in Puerto Rico.

“It was really hard being here without him,” she said.

Sgt. Flynn was one of 104 soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade that returned to the post on Wednesday, their return marked with a ceremony at the post’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

The deployment, a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve 2.0, had soldiers mostly in Germany, with others spread to Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. It was the brigade’s first deployment to Europe.

The military operation is designed to assure allies around the region following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. About 85 aircraft from the brigade, including Chinooks, Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, along with 700 pieces of support equipment, were transported by the brigade for their mission.

Soldiers from the brigade took part in several training operations with allies in the region.

“The chief of staff of the Army took notice of it and was very impressed,” said Col. Brian S. Eifler, 10th Mountain Division deputy commander for operations. “Soldiers from 20 countries, our allies in Europe, took notice of it. And certainly our potential adversaries took notice of the performance of this great unit.”

Capt. Clarissa White said she looking forward to being with her family after being away.

“It was tough,” she said. “It got easier, but after a while I was ready to come home.”

Her husband Aaron, a fellow Army captain, said he was able to get a few days out of the field to be with her and their daughter, Kiana.

“I just want to make sure everything is set, and we’re integrating well,” Aaron said. “After that it’s pure excitement.”

The brigade’s previous post-2001 deployments include missions to Afghanistan in 2003, 2006, 2010, and 2013, along with a deployment to Iraq in 2008.

The deployment also allowed some of the soldiers the opportunity to visit sites where the 10th Mountain Division fought during World War II.

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