“Three … Two … One … DISMISSED!”
With that command yelled by the audience, soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, were released to their family members following an uncasing ceremony Thursday morning on Camp Funston.
“Uncasing the colors symbolizes that the unit commander, unit sergeant major and soldiers have returned home to Fort Riley from the mission overseas,” the narrator of the ceremony said.
Maj. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Bishop, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley senior noncommissioned officer, were present for the ceremony.
“So this is just an honor for myself and Command Sgt. Maj. Bishop to be here this morning to officiate over the welcome home ceremony of the commander of the 1st Brigade and the soldiers that are with him — just a tremendous opportunity,” Kolasheski said. “To the families and friends and soldiers that are in the audience — thanks for your support of your soldier, really our soldier, over the last nine months. You have been inspirational. You have been the strength that has gotten him through the deployment. So thank you.”
Kolasheski said the soldiers of the unit had a lot to be proud of.
“Over the last nine months, you have made a difference in a very critical part of the world,” he said. “You built readiness through numerous live fire exercises and manuever force on force exercises. You have done that with style, you have done that with grace. Twelve battalion or higher exercises — absolutely phenomenal — over the entire western portion of Europe.
“You have also assured our allies with resolve and with a commitment to help them, as well as ourselves get better — and you have deterred adversaries — just a tremendous job,” he added. “So, you should walk with your head up and your shoulders back because you have a lot to be proud of.”
Eagerly waiting in the audience was Whitney Whiteside, wife of Spc. Mitchell Whiteside, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., with their almost 1-year-old son, Everett.
“It’s a dream come true, honestly, because it’s been delayed for so long and it kept getting pushed back and back,” Whitney said after embracing her soldier. “So, I’m really happy that it’s finally happening.”
Everett was nearly 3 months old when Mitchell left. Whitney said he missed a lot of important steps of Everett’s development.
“He missed everything,” she said. “He missed his first words, his first laugh, his first steps — so I’m happy for him to be home and experience all the rest of the firsts.”
Thankfully, the two used Facetime everyday, when possible, to keep in contact.
Mitchell’s mother, Susie Dyer, drove up from Fort Worth, Texas, to see her son and his family reunited.
This was his first deployment in the Army, and Dyer is looking forward to seeing her son and watch him with his son.
“I’m ready to see him with his son and see him be a dad,” she said holding back tears of joy. “It’s pretty exciting.”
The soldiers of the Devil Brigade will get the opportunity to spend some time with family before returning to the training cycle.
More units from the Big Red One are returning with ceremonies reuniting families through November.