For Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shannon Colby, being deployed during special family occasions like birthdays and holidays is old hat.
Being deployed during his daughter's surgery was new territory.
"You feel helpless," said Colby, whose daughter had a device implanted to reduce the occurrence of seizures while he was deployed to Wardack province, Afghanistan.
Colby was one of 11 soldiers with Fort Carson's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division who reunited with friends and loved ones Thursday afternoon at the brigade's headquarters.
The soldiers spent nine months working with and mentoring Afghan Uniform Police along with soldiers from Fort Stewart, Ga.
Col. Greg Sierra, commander of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, praised returning soldiers for their ability to work with troops from another division, as well as with Afghans, "and make a difference."
"We're very proud of what they did," he said.
Homecoming ceremonies are usually held at the post's Special Event Center. Thursday's ceremony was held at a more intimate venue due to the small number of soldiers returning, said Maj. Rosy Poulos, spokeswoman for the brigade.
At headquarters, welcome-home posters lined the walls. Patriotic garland was wrapped around poles, and children waved tiny American flags.
There wasn't the usual fog machine near the door where troops make their dramatic entrance.
Instead, the soldiers burst through a large sheet of paper, eliciting squeals and tears from a small but loyal crowd of family members and comrades.
Now that he's home, Colby said he planned to enjoy quality time with his family.
There also are other things to look forward to, he said.
"Staying home," he said with a grin. "Going to the bathroom without getting dressed. Taking a shower without shower shoes on. No more Porta Johns."