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Fort Carson surgical team welcomed home after 9 months in Afghanistan

By: Tony Peck Special to The Gazette
December 6, 2017 Updated: December 6, 2017 at 5:20 pm
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Members of the 2nd Foward Surgical Team stand in formation waiting to be dismissed at Fort Carson on Wednesday after returning from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.

The unique combination of nerves and relief was present as the soldiers of 2nd Forward Surgical Team waited to be dismissed from the final formation of their deployment.

The men and women of the 2nd FST were welcomed back to Fort Carson on Wednesday as they wrapped up a nine-month tour to Afghanistan.

"We are glad to see you all back safe at Fort Carson," said Col. Mark Stevens. "You completed your mission with honor and integrity."

Their mission was not an easy one.

It began with an intensive training schedule before they shipped out. For months they trained with their equipment in the field alongside fellow 4th Infantry Division soldiers.

Their training culminated with a 16-day course at the Army Trauma Training Center in Miami.

Once they arrived in Afghanistan, the team found itself split between Helmond and Kandahar provinces.

"We are a small surgical unit," explained the team's commanding officer, Maj. Elizabeth Tricozzi. "So, each of the two teams had about 10 personnel in it to perform every job."

Regardless of size, they were tasked with providing support to the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, 6th Marine Regiment, Special Operations, and Afghan forces.

To provide immediate assistance to so many frontline units the two teams were placed at forward positions, where they were close to the fight but had minimal supplies.

"You look at hospitals back here, they have everything," Said Tricozzi. "We don't."

Often performing two or three jobs at once the soldiers of 2nd FST collectively cared for 40 trauma patients throughout their deployment. Often those patients were seen during mass casualty events.

Despite the challenges faced, the unit's care resulted in a miraculous 95 percent survival rate.

In addition to saving lives the soldiers of 2nd FST trained their Afghan counterparts. "We helped them logistically," said Tricozzi. "We worked together and advised them, surgeon to surgeon."

On Wednesday, the exhaustion and stress of the deployment was visible on the men and women of 2nd FST as they stood before their families for the first time in months.

There was a sigh from the soldiers as they were dismissed.

While family and friends cheerfully greeted each other, Tricozzi was asked what she felt now that she was home.

She chuckled as she responded, "Excitement, anxiety. A different kind of stress."

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