Story by Chuck Cannon on 09/13/2019FORT POLK, La. Seven Soldiers with the 524th Engineer Detachment (Firefighter), 46th Engineer Battalion, returned home to a heroes' welcome Sept. 9 following a nine-month deployment to Romania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, was the keynote speaker during a redeployment ceremony held at 7 p.m. in South Fort Polk Fire Station.
"There are a lot of Family members here who want to get these Soldiers back home and into their arms," Frank said.
"They are probably the most excited of all of us here. And there are a bunch of fireman in the back who are excited to have their teammates back."
Frank said the returning Soldiers showed the Romanian and Bulgarian armies what the world's best Soldiers look like, act like, how they perform on the battlefield, how they perform in training, and what they can do for the community.
Frank handed out four-day passes to the returning Soldiers.
"I gave them coins when they left, now I've given them a four-day pass," he said. "That goes on top of their block leave."
"It's great to have you back home, team," Frank said. "Group, attention. Fall out to your Families, fellow friends and Soldiers."
Lt. Col. Ian R. Davis, commander, 46th Engineer Battalion, opened the event by welcoming the Soldiers home. He went through a list of the accomplishments by the unit during the deployment.
"Let's give our Soldiers a hand for their hard work," Davis said. "The Soldiers participated in community activities and sporting events with their fellow Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters."
The unit's mission was to provide structural and aircraft rescue firefighting capabilities for Romanian and Bulgarian military firefighters. During the deployment, the detachment's Soldiers responded to more than 20 emergencies that included with vehicle accidents, fire alarms and medical aid.
The unit also worked with Bulgarian Directorate of Emergency Services of Novo Selo Training Area (NSTA) leadership to rewrite and renew the Mutual Aid Agreement between NSTA and the regional State of Silven.
Following the ceremony, Sgt. Lucy A. Avila ran to the waiting arms of her 2-year-old son.
"I missed him the most, more than anything," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I missed him so much.
"I'm gonna give this little man all of my attention."
Staff Sgt. Jordan D. Gomez was all smiles as he reunited with his spouse and three children.
"I'm so glad to be back home," he said. "This deployment was hard because I missed so much with my kids.
"I'm excited to watch my son Anthony (12) play football."
The returning Soldiers/firefighters included: Gomez, Avila, Spc. Orlando Y. Acevedovillaneuva, Spc. Rene Gonzalez II, Spc. Chad C. Morgan-Brown, Spc. Andres Paz and Pvt. Josue V. Rivera.