Updated: January 22, 2014 at 10:40 am
Every night at the dinner table, Jamielynn Koback and her six children take turns sharing the highs and lows of the day.
With husband and father Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Koback deployed since last summer, there have been more of the latter than the former.
Until four nights ago, when the Koback matriarch made a major announcement during the family's nightly ritual.
"I said the low is that there's no school Wednesday," she recalled with a smile.
"The high is that daddy is going to be home."
On Tuesday evening, Koback was among 90 Fort Carson soldiers - members of 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion - who returned to the Mountain Post months earlier than initially expected, thanks to the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. All U.S. troops are expected to be out of the country in late 2014.
Nearly 200 troops from the Fort Carson unit, which is scheduled to completely return this summer, began arriving home in November. The most recent contingent arrived Tuesday night, shortly after 9 p.m.
The 4th Infantry Division Headquarters, which runs Regional Command South Headquarters in Kandahar, sent the troops home early as it adjusts its size "to meet the new conditions for the train, advise and assist mission," according to a news release from the post.
The post has more than 300 soldiers from the headquarters in Afghanistan now, and will send soldiers from its 4th Brigade Combat Team to war in teh coming months.
As they waited for the homecoming ceremony to begin Tuesday night, best friends Payton Kobal, 13, and Paiton Quinones, 12, locked arms, exchanged nervous glances and wiped tears away.
Each was waiting for her soldier parent, both career counselors, to return. For Kobal, it was her dad, and for Quinones, her mom.
"It's been real tough," Quinones said as she held back tears. "A girl can't be without her mom."
They reminisced on the tear-filled day that the unit deployed.
"We shared the moment when they left," Quinones said. "We're sharing the moment now when they come back."