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140 MPs back from Iraq
Welcome Home0220
Friends and family cheer and search for their loved ones as the 293rd MP Company marches into Newman Gymnasium on Fort Stewart during the unit's welcome home Monday. The MPs returned from a 15-month deployment to Iraq where they trained Iraqi police and located and destroyed weapons caches. - photo by Kevin Larson / U.S. Army for the Coastal Courier
The largest group of this month's redeploying soldiers from Fort Stewart arrived Monday afternoon - 140 members of the 293rd MP Company.
The unit had spent 15 months in Iraq's Diyala Province, where they trained and assisted local police and performed more than 200 missions, including seizing weapons and explosives.
Every soldier got a warm welcome from the estimated 400 well-wishers, but few could match the T-shirted fan-club-like group who waited for Spc. Nathan Pittman of Franklin, N.C.
Pittman's extended family, including uncles, aunts, cousins and even "adopted" family members from back home in Franklin, was there. But, best of all, Pittman got to see his wife and - for the first time - his 1-week-old son.
Gary and Lauren Brown, honorary members of the Pittman clan, explained that when they moved to Franklin, knowing no one there, the Pittmans "took us in and made us feel just like family, so here we are."
Gary is a school principal and the entire clan is peopled with teachers, counselors and other educators, a possible future career field for Pittman, who has an interest in history. Pittman has been promoted and has just reupped.
"He's young and he has plenty of time to decide," said aunt Betty Waldroop, "He might go into law enforcement."
Pittman graduated from high school one day and enlisted the next, Waldroop said.
Pittman and his comrades had been in Iraq for 15 months, having been sent for a 12-month deployment, which was extended.
Lt. Col. Jacqueline Lett, rear detachment commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's Sustainment Brigade, greeted the returning soldiers with best wishes from the division.
"We welcome you all home and bid you a safe pass time," Lett said.
Future redeployments of 3rd ID soldiers will be scheduled next month and through much of the rest of the year. The whole division will not be back at home station until 2009.
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