115th Maintenance Company

Returns from Iraq Deployment

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published April 20, 2006

 

<<<Photo Gallery>>>

 

Download Printer-Friendly Version

       

 

Families of 115th Maintenance Company Soldiers await their arrival on the tarmac of the Salt Lake Air Base Apr. 14.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Families of 115th Maintenance Company Soldiers await

 their arrival on the tarmac of the Salt Lake Air Base Apr. 14.

SALT LAKE CITY — When Utah National Guard officials arrived at the Salt Lake Air Base Apr. 14 at 5:30 a.m. in preparation for the 7:30 a.m. arrival of the 115th Maintenance Company, they were greeted by dozens of family members already lined up at the front gate.

Spouses, parents, and children of Soldiers seemed happy to stand and wait in the predawn darkness as efforts were made to open buildings, turn on lights and quickly set up tables and chairs.

Selected members of the 23rd Army Band played “God Bless America” and other patriotic tunes in North Hangar as families continued to arrive and huddle together in anticipation of the arrival of the Southwest Airlines charter jet from Fort Bliss, Texas, where the approximately 120 Soldiers of the 115th had spent the previous few days conducting demobilization processing.

Families react to the opening of the door of the aircraft containing the 120 Soldiers of the 115th Maintenance Company.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Families react to the opening of the door of the aircraft

containing the 120 Soldiers of the 115th Maintenance Company.

The 115th was mobilized in January 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They performed vehicle maintenance and provided security at forward operating bases and in logistical support areas in Iraq.

“I’m ecstatic.  My heart has been pounding all morning.  I can’t stop crying, but it’s just tears of joy,” said Lynnae Chilcott as she waited for her husband, Sgt. Thomas Chilcott, to arrive with his fellow Soldiers.

Base Maintenance opened the immense hangar doors and the crowd moved en masse to the roped off area on the tarmac just prior to touchdown.

The volume steadily increased as the plane taxied toward the hangar. When the aircraft door opened and the first Soldier stuck his head out, the crowd erupted in a mixture of shouts, applause and tears as they waved flags and homemade posters with messages such as ‘Welcome Home, Dad,’ ‘My Hero,’ ‘Jerry, We Love You,’ and ‘Yo, Nanoo.’

Capt. Budd Vogrinec, left, and 1st Sgt. Wesley Glenn are the first to emerge from the aircraft waving the colors of the 115th.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Greg Cullis

Capt. Budd Vogrinec, left, and 1st Sgt. Wesley Glenn are the

first to emerge from the aircraft waving the colors of the 115th.

Commander of the 115th Capt. Budd Vogrinec and 1st Sgt. Wesley Glenn stepped from the plane and waved enthusiastically in the air the red colors of the 115th, and their Soldiers quickly followed them down the stairs. 

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah National Guard Adjutant General, and Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith were among the first to greet the arriving Soldiers and welcome them home as Family Support volunteers handed a yellow rose to each Soldier as they deplaned.

Making a beeline for each other, Soldiers and families quickly converted the usually orderly flight line into one giant group hug as reporters and photographers threaded their way through the mass to capture those moments for readers, viewers and posterity.

Once the initial emotional rush subsided, Soldiers and families offered their perspective on the deployment, being reunited and what the future holds:

Spc. Tiffinie Sine, Supply Specialist, 115th Maintenance Company:

  • I’m just excited. I didn’t think [coming home] it was ever, ever, ever going to happen. We’ve been away for so long. I didn’t [get to come home on leave]. I was gone the whole time. I thought it would be too hard to come home and leave [my daughter] again. Today we’re just going to relax at home with the family. Next month we’re going to Disneyland.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Greg Cullis

 Members of the 115th Maintenance Company exit the aircraft

 and are greeted by Guard leaders and Family Support volunteers.

Sgt. 1st Class Craig Ambrose, Equipment Inspector, 115th Maintenance Company:

  • It’s fantastic to be home! In Iraq I saw all kinds of different sights I never thought I would see. I saw a big improvement on things we were doing over there. I’m going on a long vacation.  I don’t know where yet.  I’ll see where the money takes me.

Sgt. Thomas Chilcott, Radio and Communications Security Repair Specialist, 115th Maintenance Company:

  • I’m proud to come off the bench and get into the game. I mobilized with the Triple Deuce back in 2003 and we never even left the country.  I was impressed at how well our training went at Fort Bliss and how well and quickly we were able to pick up our responsi-bilities when we got to the Middle East. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go, but there definitely comes a point when you recognize it’s time for you to go home, be back with your family, and pick up your life again.

 Lynnae Chilcott, wife of Sgt. Thomas Chilcott:

  • It’s been good but stressful. Some days were good, some days were bad, some days were horrible, some days were okay, but today is the best day of all. It was worth it. We’re going to take some time off. Just disappear and go hang out together and get to know each other again, maybe go on a little vacation and get back into the swing of life. I’m just excited and happy and so glad that this day is finally here.

1st Sgt. Richard Thalman, Iraqi Freedom Veteran with the 1457th Engineers, brother of returning Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Toby Thalman:

Enthusiastic families and friends watch and cheer as their 115th Maintenance Company Soldiers come down the stairs of the aircraft.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Enthusiastic families and friends watch and cheer as their 115th Maintenance Company Soldiers come down the stairs of the aircraft.

  • It’s been along time coming and we’ve been waiting for this day for awhile. God bless America, and thanks for the troops who are back and thanks to the troops who are still there.

Sgt. 1st Class Toby Thalman, Food Service Specialist, 115th Maintenance Company:

  • It was an excellent experience. We did a lot of things above and beyond our maintenance jobs: convoy security operations, base defense operations and very little wrench-turning. Hopefully, we helped the Iraqi people and helped get that country back on its feet and get us out of there. I hope they keep progressing that way and get them their rights and get a government in place.

While some Soldiers and families echoed these same sentiments, others quietly reveled in the reunion and deferred comment on the experience until they’ve had time to take it all in.

A tearful but proud mother clutches her newly arrived Soldier/son from the 115th Maintenance Company.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

A tearful but proud mother clutches her newly arrived

Soldier/son from the 115th Maintenance Company.

As each newly reunited family made its way home, pride and gratitude were evident in warriors’ and loved ones’ faces alike for the successful and safe return of every Soldier of the 115th.

I’m so proud of him. I’m proud of his service and everything he has done,” said Lynnae Chilcott of husband Thomas. “He’s just a wonderful man. I can’t say enough about him.”

CW2 David Adamson greets family members for the first time in 15 months after arriving at Salt Lake Air Base from Fort Bliss, Texas.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

CW2 David Adamson greets family members for the first time in 15 months after arriving at Salt Lake Air Base from Fort Bliss, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A son of Capt. Budd Vogrinec, commander of the 115th, show his support of his hero dad.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

A son of Capt. Budd Vogrinec, commander of

 the 115th, shows his support of his hero dad.