After nine months in Kosovo, Staff Sgt. Isaiah Valdez got to come home to his family in time for turkey.

The father of three said what his 2nd Brigade Combat Team comrades were likely thinking on Thursday as they arrived home from peacekeeping duty in the Baltic state.

“I’m really glad to be back,” Valdez said amid a happy scene as more than 200 troops reunited with loved ones in a Fort Carson gymnasium.

Valdez, a Pueblo native, and his unit, the 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment, spent the months monitoring a United Nations agreement that dates back to the Clinton administration to keep troops from Serbia and Kosovo safely separated.

The rest of the 4,400-soldier brigade, the bulk of whom spent their overseas tour in Afghanistan, will be home by the end of the month.

The squadron’s top enlisted soldier, Command Sgt. Maj Jasan Weaver, said the work in Kosovo involved long days of patrol duty for the troops.

The soldiers work alongside local forces and NATO troops to keep the nation calm.

“It allowed us as cavalry scouts to get after the reconnaissance and security mission,” Weaver said.

Weaver has been overseas so many times in a 22-year Army career that he’s lost count of deployments. But his wife, Amber, said reunions after long separations never get old.

“I’m ecstatic,” she said.

The soldiers came home to a brief ceremony with a rapid speech from Brig. Gen. William Thigpen, the post’s deputy commander.

“What you accomplished over the past nine months will have a lasting impact on the people of Kosovo,” Thigpen said.

The homecoming introduced Capt. Jeremy Workman to his son, who was born while he was overseas.

“He’s 5 months old today,” the captain said, cradling a tiny J.D. Workman with his wife, Tiffany, by his side.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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