489th Returns Home from Kuwait

 

Written by Sgt. Scott Faddis

Published February 06 , 2004

   
489th Detachment coming off plane greeted by Gov. Walker, senior Utah National Guard members and 300 family and friends.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 489th Detachment coming off plane greeted by Gov. Walker, senior Utah National Guard members and 300 family and friends.  

     It was an emotional moment. Fifty-two soldiers walked down the air-stairs of a Utah Air National Guard KC 135 onto a runway crowded with welcome-home banners, balloons, and cheering friends and family. After a year in Kuwait, the 489th Engineer Detachment (Utility) came home to Utah on Feb 6.

     More than 300 people gathered at the Salt Lake Air Base to celebrate the engineer’s homecoming.

Family and friends were joined by Utah Gov. Olene Walker, U. S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, and several
members of Utah National Guard, including Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, the state adjutant general. In
addition to the welcome home crowd, a myriad of media were on hand to capture the moment in print
and on television.

Spc. Ephriam Gough being hugged by his wife Leneige.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 Spc. Ephriam Gough being hugged

by his wife Leneige. 

  The detachment, commanded by Capt. Andy Adamson, was mobilized in December 2002 and deployed shortly after Christmas of that year.  After a short stay at Ft. Carson, Colo., the unit deployed to Camp Doha, the headquarters for land forces in Iraq located near Kuwait City.  

     Once mobilized, life changed quickly as the members of the 489th transitioned from citizens to soldiers.

     One family that changed the quickest was the Gough family. Spc. Ephriam and Leneige Gough had planned to wed in February. Once Ephriam received his mobilization order, time for planning the wedding was condensed from 60 days to 30 hours. They were married so fast that they couldn’t possibly get everything together.

Olivia Larsen, 2-year-old daughter of Sgt. Steve Larsen, waits impatiently for her daddy's plane to arrive.  Every plane that flies by she smiles and asks, "Daddy?"
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

Olivia Larsen, 2-year-old daughter

 of Sgt. Steve Larsen, waits impatiently

 for her daddy's plane to arrive. Every

 plane that flies by she smiles and

asks, "Daddy?"   



     Leneige had already bought her dress, but not the accessories. "I had to walk down the stairs in my bare feet," she said.

     The Goughs were married only a month before he spent the next year of their marriage, and their first anniversary, in Kuwait. Now that he has returned, they plan to move into their first home and start their lives together in earnest.

 Leniege did not wait out the return of her soldier alone. The 489th Detachment is made-up of people from 33 different communities in Utah and each felt the loss of their citizen-soldiers serving their country overseas. Orem, in particularly, was left with a noticeable void.

     Before the mobilization, Orem’s Timpanogos High School had a number one ranked football program. That was before coach Frank Bramall became Sgt. Bramall full-time.

     "It’s been a tough year. We’ve missed him a lot," said the eight football players waiting at the airbase for their coach. "We had the potential to take state, but without him we couldn’t."

The same football team that desperately missed their coach did their best to help his wife.  "All summer long I had a football player mowing my lawn.  They have been great.  Not only the football team, but also the administration of the high school," said Monica Bramall.    

     Luckily for Coach Bramall, football season doesn’t start for a few months – plenty of time to prepare his team to be tough competitors next season. For now, however, Monica plans on just enjoying time together with her husband at home. Karlie, their 8 year-old daughter, is excited to have her dad home for her birthday next week.

For Staff Sgt. Kirk Harris, the year in Kuwait was his second deployment to the Persian Gulf. The first time around, Harris was deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. A long time Guardsman, Harris maintains a strong sense of patriotism that he has passed down to his son.

     Pvt. Thomas Harris joined the Utah National Guard last year after his dad was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fact that his dad was sent to Kuwait only made his convictions stronger.

     "I’ve wanted to join for a long time," said Harris. He was scheduled to leave for basic training in June but has not been able to go because of administrative problems. For him, the  wait has been frustrating.

     Teresa, the wife Kirk and mother of Thomas, has a different outlook on why her son has not been able to go to basic training.

Eight football players from Timpview High School welcome home their coach Sgt. Frank Bramall.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

Eight football players from Timpview High School welcome home their coach Sgt. Frank Bramall.

 "I needed him home. It’s been nice to have a man around the house," said an emotional Teresa. "He’s just got to be patient. Get one home and then send the other one off."

      During their year long deployment the 489th Engineer’s were indispensable at Camp Doha. The detachment, composed of electricians, plumbers, carpenters and appliance repairmen, kept busy maintaining, repairing, and upgrading facilities at the camp, whose population swelled to over 10,000 at times.

     Because of their highly specialized skills, the engineers were assigned a multitude of projects including the construction of a 3,500 square-foot stage for the largest USO concert in history.

 

Pvt. Thomas Harris waiting for his father, Staff Sgt. Kirk Harris to come off the plane.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

Pvt. Thomas Harris waiting for his father, Staff

Sgt. Kirk Harris to come off the plane. 

 

Sgt. Frank Bramall hugs his wife Monica after being in Kuwait for 13 months.
U
.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 Sgt. Frank Bramall hugs his wife Monica after being in Kuwait for 13 months.