Amid tears and hugs, the 384th Military Police were welcomed home in a special ceremony Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.
A crowd of friends and family milled around as the 3 p.m. arrival time drew near. They were not disappointed. Shortly after the hour, two busloads of the 384th drove inside the Expo Center escorted by about 40 Patriot Guard members. The group spilled off the buses and into the arms of their happy families.
For some the return home meant meeting a new family member. For Chad Due, it was the first glimpse of his 8-week-old daughter, Alex. After meeting the baby he watched his 1-year-old son, Enoch, walk, another thing he had missed while on the one-year mission to Bagram, Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, Due and the 384th Military Police worked alongside the Afghan National Army.
Brandon Cavanaugh was reunited with his bride of less than a year, Catherine. His new wife said it was the longest time the couple had ever been separated. For Cavanaugh it was his first deployment. Despite having been up for many hours to get back to Fort Wayne he looked wide awake as he greeted his smiling, tearful wife.
Being deployed overseas was nothing new for Mark Noffer, of Van Wert, Ohio, who had once been stationed in Korea, but he had clearly really missed his wife, Jenny. He hugged her for so long she handed off her camera and flowers to a family member. As the couple stepped apart she gently wiped the tears from his cheeks.
After being reunited the battalion reformed and listened to official welcome home greetings from several members of the military including the 300th Military Police Brigade Chaplin Raymond Bucon and 384th Battalion Military Police Commander CSM Edward Simpson, who had the unit turn and applaud their families and relatives.
In a released statement from Maj. Gen. Sanford Holman, the commanding general of the 200th Military Police Command said, "I am truly proud of these soldiers. Today, we turn a page to a new chapter of this battalion. The history books will write of their professionalism, can-do attitude and stellar performance while deployed overseas. They truly are America's best and brightest soldiers."
For Emily Hasty, of Columbia City, who watched some of the ceremony from the back, while her active 2-year-old daughter worked off some energy, she said nine months is a long time when you have a 2- and a 3-year-old. She was very happy her husband, Joseph Hasty, was home.