Former Commanders Honor Troops

By  | 

The soldiers of the 420th Engineer Brigade out of Bryan have only been home a day, but the impact they left in Iraq will last a lifetime.

But before those soldiers were called to duty, there were men and women that came before them that paved the way for their success.

The applause from the crowd is for a job well done.

"The greatest thing is going overseas and knowing that you helped things for those people," says Major Dennis Hoffman.

Since 1950, the 420th Engineer Brigade has been changing the world a little a time.

These soldiers have improved the lives of Iraqis forever, and only the men who have been there before, can truly understand what it's like to leave everything behind and help people you don't know in a country far away from home.

"The fact that they went over there in a dangerous place, did an excellent job and they all came back. I think we're very thankful for that," says Lyn Stuart.

Stuart was the commander of the 420th for four years. He's among a group of former commanders who came to support the troops on their return, and remember what it was like in soldier's boots.

"The ability of this organization to do the job it has done in the last year was predicted by the predecessors that came before and not just from '83 to '87 but the entire scope of time," says Al Jones.

Jones was also a former commander, responsible for training and equipping his troops.

The job of commander is far-reaching when the soldiers you train are rebuilding a country.

"While this is a very small unit, you saw 80 to 90 people here today, they were in charge of a very large engineering force," says Jones.

But it is the soldiers themselves that are changed by the experience.

"We worked together, played together; we had a real rapport with another," says former commander Woodrow Free.

A camaraderie that can reach across generations of soldiers.

"They're a great bunch of people. I'm as proud of them as their own commander is," says former commander Joe Hanover.

And the pride the soldiers, their families and community feel in their finest moment, is the true reward for all they've done.