FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The first wave of Fort Bragg paratroopers who were deployed to Europe earlier this year returned home on Tuesday.
More than 300 U.S. Army paratroopers touched down at Pope Army Airfield Tuesday evening. They were deployed to Poland six months ago when President Joe Biden sent 5,000 Fort Bragg troops to Europe after the Russian military started to surround Ukraine’s border and stage war. He said the soldiers’ mission was to assist NATO Allies, though, and not engage in fighting.
On Tuesday, inside of Fort Bragg’s Green Ramp, families held welcome home signs and dressed in patriotic outfits. Hundreds of loved ones anxiously waiting to reunite with loved ones and other troopers.
“My son fell asleep. But I’m so super excited,” Janine Collins said, the spouse of U.S. Army Specialist Judah Collins.
Collins and her two-year-old son flew in from Dallas to welcome home her husband. She said Thanksgiving of last year was the last time their family was together.
“It’s not easy. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I’m not going to make it seem like it is. We have our days, especially the days we can’t talk to them,” Collins said.
She greeted her husband with cheers, hugs and kisses.
“I’m super happy. He climbed over tables to get to me,” Collins said. “I’m super happy. My little family is together.”
CBS 17 asked U.S. Army Specialist Judah Collins how important his wife and son are to him, too.
Four simple words was all he needed.
“They are my everything.”
Another paratrooper, U.S. Army Specialist David Rosado, said this was his first deployment in the Army. He said picking up where he left off with his family after six months may be challenging, but doable.
“It’s going to be a process. So, it’s basic communication, starting over, and starting from the basics,” U.S. Army Specialist Rosado said.
Fort Bragg said more paratroopers will be returning home from Europe in the coming weeks.