CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Fort Hood's Greywolf Brigade--more than 3000 soldiers strong--is getting ready to deploy back home.
Commander Colonel John Woodward said the nine-month deployment to the Middle East was the most challenging and complex of his career.
"It sends a message to that other country, that other Army that we assure them that we are going to be there for them to help protect their sovereignty and it's also a message to our adversaries, a deterrence," Colonel Woodward said.
Greywolf is more combat ready now than they were when they left Fort Hood earlier this year, according to the Commander.
Woodward said more than half of the soldiers got combat experience in the nine-month period.
It was the first deployment for many Greywolf soldiers, including some in Lieutenant Colonel Brian McCarthy's battalion. He said his soldiers became better soldiers and citizens of the world.
"Once we went to these other countries it was a phenomenal experience to operate much like they would in the box at NTC. They were fully expeditionary, living off of their tanks and Bradleys and eating MREs for several weeks at a time,” he said.
Training was just one part of a larger mission set for soldiers in the Fort Hood brigade. Some headed north into battle supporting Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS.
"Combat advisor roles, field artillery support missions and directly advising divisions in the Iraqi Army," Woodward said, describing the responsibilities for those troops when they were downrange.
Specialist Daniel Rockett is one of those soldiers deployed even further. The Commander presented him an Army Commendation Medal for valor in combat.
"What's so significant about his act of valor is that it was an Iraqi federal police officer that he was trying to rescue and save. So, it's one thing to react and show bravery for one of your own wingmen but for another country to put to your body and your life on the line," Woodward said of the soldier.
Despite the busy deployment with combat and training operations, Woodward gave soldiers a chance to take leave while overseas for big family events like births and graduations--a rare opportunity and a big morale boost for the soldiers.
"The feedback I got was tremendous," he said.
As Greywolf soldiers look ahead to heading home, Woodward ensures leaders are engaged and ensure soldiers are faring well when they return stateside.
"There's going to be soldiers who come back possibly with some financial hardships, some relationship hardships, but there are systems that will help police our own, not just programs that the Army offers," he said.
Woodward explained it is important for new soldiers to looked to soldiers who have redeployed in the past as well as take advantage of reintegration programs on Fort Hood.
Colonel Woodward said there have been trying conditions including a summer with temperatures reaching 130 degrees. Channel 6 learned the families will be rewarded with some leave time to enjoy the holiday season with their families.
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