Some of the last Hawaii-based soldiers deployed to Afghanistan returned to the islands Saturday.
It's a bittersweet homecoming for the soldiers of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, which suffered a high number of casualties on this mission.
The one-year mission in Afghanistan officially came to an end for 130 soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division.
"Whether it was close combat attack, air assault, reconnaissance resupply and medevac, they've done every one of them to an extremely high standard," said Gen. Kurt Fuller, commander of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, in a brief welcome home ceremony at Wheeler Army Airfield.
It's been a very long year for Mindy Hewetson, who has been through three deployments. Her youngest daughter was born while her husband was serving overseas.
"Even after the third deployment, I have butterflies in my stomach, I'm so excited. I slept an hour last night," said Hewetson.
The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade's primary mission was to provide security and support in Afghanistan while helping the country build its own security forces.
"Every day was a challenge, but our soldiers constantly did the right thing and really set us up for success," said Sgt. Mjr. Trefus Lee, Battalion Commander for the 25th CAB, 25th Infantry Brigade.
But tragedy also came with this deployment. Eight soldiers from the brigade were killed in two separate helicopter crashes during the mission.
"Any kind of loss is very hard, but we have to look at it to the point that at least the mission was worth the risk we took and be there for the families in the future," said Lt. Col. Kelly Hines, 25th CAB, 25th Infantry Div.
With President Obama's announcement to end most U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan this spring, families are hoping this will be the last deployment to the region for a while.
And with this mission completed, it's now time for another one -- it's Daddy Duty -- at least for Sgt. Andrew Hewetson.
"This is what I live for, right here," said Hewetson as he held two of his three daughters in his arms. "This is what I do it for."
The very last soldiers with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division will be coming home next week.
Hawaii-based soldiers return home from Afghanistan
Bittersweet homecoming for brigade which suffered high number of casualtiesPublished 1:51 PM HST Jan 12, 2013
Some of the last Hawaii-based soldiers deployed to Afghanistan returned to the islands Saturday.Recommended