Fort Carson homecoming of 250 soldiers includes marriage proposal

October 21, 2013 Updated: October 22, 2013 at 7:42 am
Caption +
Captain Wesley Lafitte proposes to Captain Katernia Hay, who said "Yes!" after a homecoming ceremony for the 1st Brigade Combat Team 4th Infantry Division, which spent nine months in Kuwait at the Special Events Center at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Monday, October 21, 2013. (Kent Nishimura/The Gazette)

With the dust of Kuwait still on their boots, more than 250 Fort Carson soldiers celebrated their return to Colorado Monday.

The soldiers from the post's 1st Brigade Combat Team spent nine months in Kuwait, where they trained troops from allied armies and served as a deterrent to aggression that bubbles in the region. The soldiers weren't called to fight during their time overseas, but with Syria and frequent terror threats, combat was on everyone's mind.

"I've never seen so many soldiers watching the news," said Maj. Avery Carney, a physician's assistant with the brigade's 1st Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment.

It was hectic on the home front, too.

Families left behind dealt with the government shutdown and uncertainty over whether paychecks would get to the bank while Congress battled.

"It was crazy," Jennifer Howell said. "I did a cross-county move by myself."

Sort of by herself - Howell brought four kids, ages 3 through 12 to Colorado from Texas to greet her husband, Sgt. Andrew Howell.

The sergeant was too busy hugging kids to say much Monday.

Is it good to be home?

"Yes, yes it is," he said.

It was a day of few words.

The homecoming even stymied the oratorical skills of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who was on hand to greet the troops.

"This is one politician who's not going to let a long speech stand between you and your families," Bennet told the soldiers. "Welcome home."

Maybe he spotted one woman's sign in the crowd: "His eyes are brown. His boots are tan. Out of my way, so I can kiss my man."

Nearby, Maria Garcia wrangled her two kids as they waited for their reunion with her husband Spc. Brian Garcia.

"It's been long, too long," she said.

The homecoming even included a marriage proposal.

Capt. Wesley Lafitte proposed to Capt. Katernia Hay after the ceremony. She accepted.

Captain Wesley Lafitte proposes to Captain Katernia Hay, who said "Yes!" after a homecoming ceremony

The 1st Brigade troops are being replaced in Kuwait by soldiers from Fort Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The rotation is part of a Pentagon plan to keep forces on the ground in the Persian Gulf without permanently stationing troops there.

The 2nd Brigade soldiers also will be assigned to Camp Buehring, which sits next to Kuwait's Udari range in the desert northwest of Kuwait City.

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