By SGT. JUSTIN SILVERS
3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
About 200 Soldiers from the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) celebrated their return from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan at a ceremony Saturday at the Natcher Physical Fitness Center on Fort Knox.
The redeployment ceremony highlighted the end of the 3rd ESC’s mission in Afghanistan and reunited the Soldiers with their loved ones.
Antonella Smith, spouse of Sgt. 1st Class Oranthal Smith, had been married a little more than a month before her husband was deployed.
Although Smith didn’t get to spend much time with her husband before the deployment, she was able to keep in touch with him through Skype and brief telephone calls.
“I was able to talk on the phone quite often,” said Smith. “It makes for a better day knowing you just talked to your loved one; it just made the day go by faster.”
Smith was overjoyed in anticipation of seeing her husband.
“Right now is the moment that counts,” said Smith. “I just want him to be here to hold him, to tell him that I love him.”
Smith was joined by hundreds of other Family members who filled the fitness center ready to welcome home their loved ones.
Thidea Briggs and her two children were welcoming home Sgt. 1st Class Alexis Briggs. Briggs, who is a big sports fan along with her husband, was most looking forward to spending Sundays together again.
“It’s football season so me and him are very big into football,” said Briggs. “Sundays were the day when we’re home and it was nothing but football.”
Although the deployment was hard for the Soldiers and their Families, the Soldiers of the 3rd ESC will be bringing back experience that will likely benefit them and the unit in the future.
Sgt. 1st Class Eoin Keaton said he learned a lot from his deployment.
“I learned my job at a totally different level, a much higher level,” said Keaton. “I was able to see the battlefield in a different perspective.”
Keaton wasn’t the only Soldier who gained experience from the deployment.
“You learn something new every day over there,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth Hook, noncommissioned officer in charge of logistical operations. “It’s a completely different environment.”
Brig. Gen. Kristin French, commander of the 3rd ESC, said the troops had done a great job while deployed, setting conditions for future operations in Afghanistan.
“They were able to work at all levels,” said French. “Working from tactical to operational to strategic.”
French also described the transition period for the Soldiers arriving from Afghanistan, noting they would have reintegration training followed by a chance to take leave.
The 3rd ESC deployed to Afghanistan in April 2012 and was tasked to provide logistical support for units stationed across Afghanistan. While deployed the 3rd ESC issued a variety of supplies including more than 1 billion gallons of gasoline, 15 million pounds of ammunition and purchased more than 900 million rations.