The soldiers have returned from Iraq, their colors were ceremonially uncased this morning, and the 17th Fires Brigade is officially back home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Most of them, anyway.
Approximately 1,000 soldiers returned over the last several weeks from Basra province, where they worked closely with Iraqi soldiers, police, border patrol officers and government officials. Their work included rebuilding utility capacity and civic institutions as part of “Task Force Thunderbolt,” according to Lewis-McChord.
Three other smaller units of artillerymen have reunited with the brigade at Lewis-McChord. They returned in February, March and June after serving with Multi-National Division Baghdad.
That leaves a detachment of about 250 soldiers from the brigade that deployed to Afghanistan in October. In late July, that group suffered the only combat deaths the 17th Fires Brigade has ever sustained since it formed at Fort Lewis in 2007: a bombing that killed Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, Sgt. Daniel Lim, Spc. Joseph A. Bauer and Spc. Andrew L. Hand.