FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Another group of Fort Riley soldiers is home with their families, reuniting with their loved ones after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
Nearly 170 Soldiers of the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, returned to Fort Riley Wednesday.
The soldiers were welcomed home during a. ceremony at the post’s redeployment center.
The "Big Red One" Soldiers began to return from a one-year deployment to Regional Command-East on Feb. 11.
Their family members packed the stands and greeted them with hugs and kisses.
"I got all teary-eyed coming over here thinking about everybody who has someone coming up and everyone misses their soldiers and we’re just so proud of each and every one of them and just thankful that God has brought them home and everyone is safe so it’s a good thing," said Erin Nieves who was waiting for her husband with her young son.
Operating as Combined Joint Task Force-1, the 1st Infantry Division commanded and controlled operations throughout RC-East, an area roughly the size of Virginia. RC-East includes 14 provinces, 7.5 million citizens and 450 km of a mountainous border with Pakistan. They helped protect citizens and and facilitated the transition of security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces.
"You get to help the people of Afghanistan but also, you’re away from your family. So today is a very special day. It’s a great feeling to return to your family after a year-long deployment. As you can see in the crowd, you can see the smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s a great day today to return to our families," said Command Sergeant Major Maurice Chaplin.
"I feel great to be back with my family! Thank God! It's been hard but we had a great team to get through everything and get the job done and I had the great support of my family," added Chief Warrant Officer Basketville.
The unit’s remaining Soldiers will continue to return throughout the upcoming weeks. Thousands of 4th Brigade soldiers have also returned from Afghanistan in recent weeks.