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Fort Carson welcomes engineers home

By: ERIN PRATER
February 8, 2013
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photo - A father hugs his wife and sons as about 270 soldiers from the 497th Engineer Company and the 544th Engineer Company, 52nd Battalion returned to Fort Carson after tours in the Middle East Friday, February 8, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO, THE GAZETTE
A father hugs his wife and sons as about 270 soldiers from the 497th Engineer Company and the 544th Engineer Company, 52nd Battalion returned to Fort Carson after tours in the Middle East Friday, February 8, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO, THE GAZETTE 

Spc. Michael Courtney wrapped his left arm around his wife, Amanda, and kissed her forehead.

“Come here, baby,” he said.

She shook and sobbed, tears of relief dripping off her chin.

In the specialist’s other arm was his 6-month-old son, Logan, whom he’d just met for the first time.

Logan gazed up at his dad and brushed his cheek.

It was as if the two had never been apart.

Amanda Courtney had been waiting for that moment since July 12, when she gave birth to Logan without her husband.

He watched the 26-hour ordeal via Skype from Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

Spc. Courtney was one of 270 soldiers from Fort Carson’s 52nd Engineer Battalion to come home Friday after nine months overseas.

Soldiers of the battalion’s 497th Engineer Company split their time between Kuwait and Afghanistan, completing more than 40 projects like the construction of containment berms at a fuel facility and waste-water retention ponds.

Soldiers of the battalion’s 544th Engineer Company spent the lion’s share of their time in Kuwait, where they worked on large-scale engineering projects.

Platoon-sized detachments from the battalion worked in Afghanistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on infrastructure projects and to improve bases.

For the Courtneys, their first deployment was a doozy.

Giving birth alone was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” the new mom said.

The entire time, her husband remained at his computer, doing what he could to encourage her.

“He would try to keep me calm during contractions and count and give me weird faces — anything he could do to keep me laughing,” she said.

As their son was placed on her stomach, umbilical cord still attached, both parents melted into tears, she said.

Michael Courtney had expected to feel joy.

Instead, he fought back an unexpected emotion.

“The first thing I felt was straight anger that I couldn’t be there,” he said. “Then I took a second to think about it and was just happy that I could see him.”

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