More soldiers in the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade are expected to return home from Iraq to Joint Base Lewis-McChord today. They’re scheduled to hold a welcome-home ceremony at 6 p.m. More information is available here, as well as at the brigade’s Facebook page. A third group of soldiers is still on its way home.
Last week, the 201st formally transferred its authority in southern Iraq to the 67th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of the Nebraska National Guard.
At the ceremony, Col. Robert Whalen of Tacoma said the hardest part of the brigade’s yearlong tour was the death of Sgt. Faith R. Hinkley of Monte Vista, Colo.
“Absolutely the hardest thing was the death of one of our soldiers, Sgt. Faith R. Hinkley was killed on Aug. 7,” Whalen said, according to an account from an Army public affairs officer. “I really thought that we can bring all 1,000 of our troops home safely from Iraq. The last month of our deployment Hinkley was killed”
“That was without question the most crushing and devastating moment of our entire deployment,” Whalen said.
The 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade was the last major unit from Lewis-McChord to deploy in 2009, a year in which some 18,000 soldiers left the base for the Middle East. Its responsibilites include producing intelligence and providing battlefield support.