More than 50 Soldiers and Airmen staying in the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s Controlled Monitoring Area since their return from missions in support of Operation United Assistance returned to their home units at Smith Barracks in Baumholder Dec. 16 – nine days before Christmas Day.
This group, comprised primarily of engineering Soldiers from the 21st TSC’s 902nd Engineer Company, 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, marks the first “cohort” to complete its mandatory 21-day controlled monitoring period at the facility. Before loading buses and departing for their home station in Grafenwoehr, many of the Soldiers reflected on their time in Liberia, located in West Africa, and their accomplishments in support of Operation United Assistance.
“Living conditions in Liberia were pretty austere and we were working really hard every day,” said Spc. Paul Reap, a carpenter assigned to the 902nd Engineer Company and a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “As an engineer company we built 74 structures during our 22-day mission, something we are all really proud of. When we got back to Germany, of course we would have liked to go straight home, but CMA was not bad.”
During their 21-day monitoring period, the Soldiers had access to free Wi-Fi, gaming consoles, gym facilities and even a small shoppette. Soldiers lived in comfortable rooms and accomplished administrative tasks during their stay. State-of-the art communication infrastructure allowed them to keep in touch with family and friends. Chaplains provided robust religious support and any necessary counseling throughout their tenure in Baumholder. The group celebrated Thanksgiving with a special meal including traditional fare with all the trimmings at the CMA dining facility.
“The chow was not bad at all, and they prepared something special for us on Thanksgiving,” said Pfc. John Staats, a carpenter assigned to the 902nd Eng. Co. and a native of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. “It might not be as good as being with our families, but it is much better than we were eating in Africa.”
As the gates opened and the Soldiers and Airmen boarded buses to take them home, many smiled and remarked how thankful they were to be getting home in time for the holidays.
“I know I am happy to get home in time for Christmas,” said 1st Lt. Chris Van Kleef, the 902nd Eng. Co. executive officer and a native of San Diego. “In know my wife will also be happy to have me home.”
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