Soldiers return to Fort Drum following Afghanistan deployment

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - Some pictures are worth 1,000 words, this one can be summed up in three.

“I came back.”

Back from Afghanistan. More than 100 soldiers from the 4th battalion, 31st infantry – also known as the Polar Bears – made it home safely on Monday, after more than nine months in Afghanistan. They were some of the last troops in the country until the end of the war. Friends and family members eagerly awaiting the soldiers’ return.

Some brought signs and balloons. A brief ceremony was held for the soldiers who were tasked with securing Kabul’s airport as the city fell to the Taliban in recent weeks. Despite the dangerous mission, there were no casualties in the unit.

“Everybody that left, returned. Some of our brothers and sisters cannot say that. But all of the Polar Bears that left, returned,” said Major General Milford Beagle, Commander of the 10th Mountain Division.

That made for tighter hugs and sweeter reunions.

After a long journey home, the plane touched down at Wheeler-Sack Airfield just before 3:30 PM on Monday.

For some, the feeling of being back on American soil is hard to describe.

“It’s honestly quite surreal. It doesn’t quite feel real yet,” said 1st LT. Hunter Tuttle.

Tuttle was later greeted by his family.

For Captain Swasey Brown, it was a reunion with his wife, daughter, and a new member of the family.

“And then our son, Quentin. This is my first time meeting him. You know, I’ve seen pictures and everything. But until you’re there and you hold him, then it becomes real,” said Brown.

Some have been counting the days, but now this unit is finally back in the country they defend.

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