Wiesbaden families' emotions at both ends of spectrum
WIESBADEN, Germany — As one group of Wiesbaden-based soldiers sat in a movie theater listening to a predeployment briefing, another batch right next door, fresh off the frontlines of Iraq, heard the grateful cheers of family and friends.
Such was the scene Tuesday at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, where the range of emotions near the 1st Armored Division headquarters building varied greatly, depending on whether the troop was coming or going.
“I want to go home, run me a nice bubble bath and just sit in there and relax for at least three hours,” said Sgt. Shannon Owens, of the 19th Support Center. “I want to soak it all in.”
For those departing, the mood was more reflective, more somber. A year away from family and the creature comforts of home is not something many folks do cartwheels over.
Your mission “will be pivotal in the success of the U.S. forces on the ground,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan C. Fristoe, commander of the 421st Medical Battalion.
The deployment ceremony also included the inactivation of the 523rd Medical Company, a dental unit. Fristoe said the ceremony is indicative of today’s Army.
“How fitting it is that we sent two units off to war and another we inactivate,” Fristoe said.
He pronounced the deploying unit “ready to go to war.”
Most of the departing troops wear the patch of the 557th Medical Company based in Wiesbaden. The rest, about a dozen, are with the 133rd Medical Detachment, a preventive medicine outfit from nearby Hanau.
Their formal send-off occurred shortly before supper. In the weeks and months that lie ahead, that empty seat at the dinner table will be one of the many constant reminders that families will be coping with.
But for those at the other end of the spectrum, Tuesday was pure bliss.
“There’s daddy,” 4-year-old Kaitlyn Motes said to her mom as a second homecoming ceremony began inside the old gymnasium. “Daddy’s here.”
It didn’t take long for Daddy, Capt. Kerry Motes of the 19th Support Center, and daughter to exchange hugs.
The troops marched in from a side door, each carrying a yellow rose. They stood in formation, saluted during the national anthem and heard a brief invocation from a senior chaplain. It all took five minutes — tops.
“We try to keep it as short as possible,” said Sgt. Maj. Shawn Leonard, a plans-and-operations guy with the rear detachment team.
People generally don’t linger at these ceremonies, especially those who are married or with children. Folks like the Motes family.
“We’ve been literally counting the days,” Cheryl Motes said as she held the hand of their 2-year-old son, Andrew.
Sgt. Joshua Doyle, who, like Motes, is with the 19th Support Center, said he’s been thinking only of his family as this day drew near.
“I’ve got one son (Mason) and one on the way,” the 24-year-old Kentucky native said. Coming home “is kind of overwhelming. It’s great.”