As a public affairs NCO, I get to tell my unit’s story and, in a larger part, the Army’s story. Integral to the story of the 21st Theater Support Command is the role our units continue to play in the war on terrorism.
In the course of providing public affairs coverage of Soldiers gearing up for future deployments and those returning from downrange, I am struck by the optimism and spirit they share.
That spirit is forged in a commitment to the mission.
It was evident last week as I attended a ceremony welcoming home one group of Soldiers from a deployment and a ceremony heralding the impending departure of another.
During the welcoming ceremony, Soldiers proudly stood in formation before an excited and emotional group of family and friends. Yes, they too were elated to be home and showed it as they rushed into waiting arms, some Soldiers with tears trickling down their smiling faces. But what showed most was their pride of accomplishing the mission. They beamed with the satisfaction of a job well done.
In interview after interview, their thoughts would eventually return to the mission and how important they felt it was to get the job done during the deployment. When asked how it felt to be home, most gave the answers one would expect after a prolonged separation from family.
Few would dwell on the hardships they had endured, but instead, they told of how each squad member performed well under fire, how each platoon supported the other, how the company took on the mission of two.
Like doting parents, the company commander and first sergeant easily rattled off a list of hefty accomplishments – thousands of miles traveled and tons of supplies delivered – that their charges had done in the harshest of circumstances. Their genuine care and appreciation of their Soldiers showed in their words of praise.
A similar scene played out later in the week at the ceremony held for the deploying unit. Soldiers expressed their confidence in being prepared for their upcoming mission.
They too spoke of the mission and the good things they look forward to accomplishing. Those are the things that will define their deployment along with the missed birthdays and school plays. And we thank them for their commitment.