For some members of the 705th Military Police Battalion of Fort Leavenworth, the fireworks might seem a little brighter, the barbecue a little better come this Fourth of July.
That's because after a nine-month deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 31 members of the 705th Headquarters and Headquarters Company Forward were officially ushered back to their home in a ceremony Wednesday. Following a reportedly bumpy ride home, the first group of soldiers from that group arrived on post June 18 to be reunited with their families and friends. The second arrived later that same day.
Lt. Col. Rolanda Colbert, the commander of the entire 705th MP Battalion, praised the accomplishments of the unit, which was responsible for command of the Theater Field Confinement Facility in Kuwait and custody of the detainees there both before and after trial.
“I'm convinced that the unit's accomplishments during deployment were only possible because of you,” she said. “You and your selfless service and commitment to the mission and the team.”
Col. Sioban Ledwith, the commander of the larger 15th Military Police Brigade, the United States Disciplinary Barracks and the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, said the unit left for Kuwait as a unit and “grew into a family.” But she also said the unit had an impact from a tactical standpoint.
“The TFCF plays a key and essential role within our military justice system by providing both pre- and post-trial for U.S. military prisoners,” she said. “The TFCF provides a very much needed and desired capability ― lifting a huge burden from units so that they can focus on their mission in the region.”
But Colbert and other speakers also praised the sacrifices of the families of the soldiers who had deployed. Maj. Kenneth Scillieri, the commander for the 705th Forward, invoked Albert Einstein's theory of relativity to say that some parts of the nine-month deployment seemed to pass quickly.
“There were also times that seemed to take longer than the nine months we were there,” he said. “The separation from the families, the separation from friends, the things that we enjoy when we come back here.”
He thanked those families publicly.
“We are only capable of our success because of the support we have from our families,” Scillieri said.
Scillieri praised his soldiers' professionalism ― they were training their replacements still on the day before leaving ― and the individual accomplishments of the members of the unit, several of whom worked to earn bachelor's degrees or other educational honors and attain top physical training scores.
Scillieri said after the ceremony that while another unit will likely take over the responsibility of the TFCF, it's possible the 705th will be returning in another year.
Page 2 of 2 - For the time being, however, he said the soldiers will get some block leave. For Master Sgt. Calvin Hayes, that meant reconnecting with those who for almost a year he had not seen.
“I'm going to go spend some quality time with the family,” he said during the unit's arrival at Fort Leavenworth last week.