Saturday, August 23, 2003

Company of soldiers is home from Afghanistan

The Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - When Capt. Thomas Carlson saw his youngest daughter for the first time, she was 6 weeks old.

Carlson was one of five soldiers from Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell who became fathers during a six-month deployment in Afghanistan.

The Charlie Company commander made it home in mid-July to meet Sophia six weeks after missing her birth. The rest of the 155 soldiers were welcomed home during a ceremony Friday morning.

"It was an adjustment for him to see her and for her to see him," said Carlson's wife, Mary, of Clarksville, Tenn.

During the deployment, the Chinook helicopter battalion provided support for Task Force Devil and the 82nd Airborne Division in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Charlie Company flew more than 2,300 flight hours without the loss of any soldiers. In addition, the battalion hauled millions of pounds of food, ammunition and life support equipment to soldiers in Afghanistan as well as those on the Pakistani border.

The homecoming won't last long for Staff Sgt. Travis Pequignot and Sgt. Kevin Purdy, who volunteered for duty in Iraq after hearing of a need for Chinook mechanics.

"They were asking for help, and we're giving it," Pequignot said.

But Carlson said even though the current focus is on Iraq, Americans must not forget the dangers soldiers in Afghanistan face.

"People don't seem to think there's still a war going on in Afghanistan," he said. "It's still a very dangerous place. There's still people shooting at us."

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