By Sgt. Christopher Calvert
1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
As more than 100 Family members anxiously awaited the arrival of their Soldiers, two white buses carrying their returning heroes pulled up at Hood Army Airfield to thunderous applause, marking the end of a historic mission in Afghanistan.
After a yearlong deployment, 78 Soldiers in Company F, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division reunited with loved ones during a homecoming ceremony at Hood Army Airfield Friday.
“I can’t explain how nervous and excited I am to see my son,” said Melissa Bosi, mother of Sgt. Jed Prall, an unmanned aerial vehicle operator with Co. F, 1-227th. “He’s so brave. He’s my hero. There’s no way I could be any more proud of all these returning heroes.”
Stationed at Forward Operating Base Shank, Logar Province, Afghanistan, the “Nomads” provided Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance support to Regional Command-East via the use of the Gray Eagle, an unmanned aerial system, for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, as well as strike missions.
“We worried and prayed so much during his deployment,” Bosi said. “We knew the importance of his unit’s mission, and he was very busy, so often times we didn’t have the chance to speak. But I knew he was being taken care of by his fellow Soldiers. I can’t wait to put my arms around him and tell him how much I’ve missed him.”
During their deployment, Soldiers operated 12 Gray Eagle aircraft and flew thousands of hours, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandon Edgar, rear detachment commander for the company.
“Our mission was successful as we supported over 10,000 hours of ISR and lost nobody,” Edgar said. “We’re the first ones to do this mission and support real-time operations – including neutralizing insurgents.”
The operation marked the first time in the Army a company completed warfare missions with Gray Eagles, as it deployed 117 Soldiers last March and redeployed the entire company without loss of life over the course of the year, Edgar explained.
“Everyone has accomplished training missions, but we’re the only company in the Army who has executed Gray Eagle combat missions,” Edgar said. “We’re proud of our Soldiers, and we’re glad everyone came back in one piece from this historic deployment.”