More than 250 soldiers from 82nd’s Combat Aviation Brigade come home
Members of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade return to Fort Bragg at Green Ramp on Wednesday night. The brigade provided air support in Afghanistan.
It just didn’t seem real to Lisa Cyrulik.
Even with the plane within sight, she could hardly believe that her husband, Lt. Col. John Cyrulik, was finally home.
“We had to stop and think about it,” Lisa Cyrulik said, “to realize he was actually on that plane.”
Cyrulik and more than 250 other soldiers with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade were welcomed home Wednesday from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan.
Deborah Fager was among the family members anxiously awaiting a loved one’s return.
Fager said she had been counting down the days for her husband, Capt. Michael Fager, to come home.
She attended the homecoming with sons Ashton, 4, and Cody, 5.
“They’re excited,” she said.
Spc. Juan Rodriguez also was greeted by loved ones, but he expects to be back for another homecoming soon to welcome home his wife, who also deployed to Afghanistan.
Rodriguez was greeted by his mother-in-law, Inma Garcia, and three children.
Garcia said Wednesday was nerve-racking but added that she was excited to finally have Rodriguez home.
Greeted by balloons, handmade signs and swarms of family members, the ceremony at Fort Bragg’s Green Ramp marked the brigade’s official return from Afghanistan; however, some troops remain in the country.
One of two flights of 82nd Airborne Division soldiers to return Wednesday, the early flight included the leadership of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, including Cyrulik, who commands the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion and Task Force Wolfpack, and brigade commander Col. T.J. Jamison.
“It feels great to be home,” Cyrulik said.
His two sons, 9-year-old Jackson and 8-year-old Grant, were happy to have their father back, bouncing up and down in excitement over the family’s vacation plans.
Cyrulik said family support had been “absolutely critical” to the success of the brigade.
Based in Bagram, Afghanistan, the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade provided air support for a 43,000-square-mile swath of Afghanistan.
They deployed more than 2,500 soldiers and 200 helicopters and set records for the number of flight hours, according to officials.
The brigade flew more than 145,000 hours and completed more than 2,500 medical evacuation missions.
The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade is the latest brigade-sized unit from the 82nd Airborne Division to return from Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, the 1st and 4th brigade combat teams returned from Afghanistan, as did the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters.
All told, about 9,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, including a battalion with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team that should be home later this month, were deployed to Afghanistan over parts of the last year, officials said.