Harrodsburg welcomes home Task Force Summit

Story and photos by Sgt. Paul Evans, 103rd BSB Unit Public Affairs and Historian Representative

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Soldiers of the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion’s Task Force Summit stand in one final formation at their homecoming ceremony in Harrodsburg, Ky. on April 19, 2014. Dozens gathered Saturday to welcome Task Force Summit home from their nine-month deployment in Afghanistan supporting the Special Operations Command’s withdrawal. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Paul Evans)

HARRODSBURG, Ky. — Dozens of families and friends gathered in Harrodsburg on Saturday, April 19, 2014 outside the Armory that is home to the Kentucky Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters’ Co., 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, 138th Fires Brigade. Miniature American flags waved in the hands of many onlookers while others held up homemade posters to welcome their heroes home from a successful journey abroad.

The 15 Soldiers spent nine months in Afghanistan supporting the Special Operations Command’s withdrawal from the country.

As the three vans carrying the Soldiers and their gear unloaded at the armory, Soldiers were met with tears of joy, gentle greetings among old friends, and loving embraces of those who silently served at home while the Soldiers served overseas.

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A returning Soldier embraces his daughter outside the National Guard Armory in Harrodsburg, Ky. on April 19, 2014. Dozens gathered Saturday to welcome home the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion’s Task Force Summit from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan supporting the Special Operations Command’s withdrawal. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Paul Evans)

Capt. Justin Watts, a 32-year-old Lexington, Ky. resident, served as the Officer-in-Charge of the 103rd’s small Retrograde Assistance Team, officially referred to as ‘Task Force Summit.’ He addressed the large crowd of family and friends anxious to take their Soldiers home after their short period of reconnecting.

“These are Soldiers who bought into the idea of supporting something greater no matter what,” Watts observed. “In a greater sense, what these guys were part of was something much bigger than they could do themselves. We took the equipment in the (Afghanistan) Theatre, and we took it to where the fight was taking place.”

“We, as senior leaders can give our Soldiers the training to be successful in combat, we can give them the equipment needed to complete the mission…but what we can’t give them is something that you as family and friends can do.”

“It’s what you did for us,” Watts recalled. “You provide my Soldiers with morale. A simple letter, email, package, a Facebook post—(all) kept my Soldiers going.”

“I can’t give my Soldiers peace-of-mind, but the spouses and family members, parents, siblings, (they) can step-up and take care of business at home to give the Soldiers the peace-of-mind they need…because a Soldier whose mind is not at war can’t be in the fight.”

For his Soldiers, Watts was happy to highlight their contributions. “Those guys, they did everything I asked for and more,” he explained. “No problem was too complex. They solved it without fail.”

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Soldiers with the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion’s Task Force Summit applaud after Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey McCrystal was promoted to Command Sgt. Maj. of the 103rd in Harrodsburg, Ky. on April 19, 2014. Dozens gathered Saturday to welcome Task Force Summit home from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan supporting the Special Operations Command’s withdrawal. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Paul Evans)

Following the ceremony to welcome Task Force Summit home, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel McSpadden, a 41-year-old Lexington resident, took a few moments to reflect on the 103rd’s accomplishment of the mission before rejoining his family.

“I think we set a great precedent for things to come as far as retrograde throughout the (Afghanistan) theatre,” he said. “Hopefully, the units behind us will meet that or exceed it. But other than that, the mission’s complete…so I’m just ready to go home.”

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