‘Steel Knights’ return to Mannheim

Story and photo by Spc. Adrienne Killingsworth
18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs

MANNHEIM, Germany — With the bleachers in Coleman Gym on Coleman Barracks overflowing with friends, family and fellow Soldiers ready to welcome them back, the 51st Transportation Company, 28th Transportation Battalion returned to Mannheim, Germany, Aug. 28 after serving a 15-month tour in Iraq.

The primary missions of the “Steel Knights” in Iraq included convoy security escorts and transportation missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since the 51st Trans. Co.’s deployment to Iraq in June 2008, the Army has scaled back the length of tours in Iraq. Units supporting OIF after August 2008 now deploy for 12 months. The Steel Knights were one of the last units given a 15-month tour.
Maj. Nicole Heumphreus, 28th Trans. Bn. commander, said it is tough on Soldiers and their families after returning from a 15-month deployment.

“Now comes the most difficult part of your deployment – the next 60 days,” she said. “Take care of yourselves; take care of one another.”

Major Heumphreus acknowledged the long wait friends and families endured while waiting for this reunion, and also said 18 days of rest and relaxation does not make up for the 15 months apart. Major Heumphreus also made sure to emphasize the importance of the Soldiers’ gradual integration back into their regular lives.

The Soldiers of the 51st Trans. Co. will begin transitioning themselves back into the Mannheim community during a mandatory 60-day reintegration period.

This reintegration, however, will be only one of many transitions these Soldiers will face in the coming months. The 51st Trans. Co. will shortly be reassigned to the 16th Sustainment Brigade stationed in Bamberg, Germany, as a part of the deactivation of the 28th Trans. Bn.