100 soldiers come marching home to Baumholder
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — One wife surprised her husband by wearing a T-shirt that announced she was pregnant.
Another wrote a heartfelt poem that was waiting at home for her husband. And many others were simply relieved to have their husbands home safe.
About 100 soldiers arrived home to Baumholder on Monday evening, making it the first group of some 3,400 soldiers deployed with the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade to return from Iraq.
More soldiers are set to return to Baumholder in the coming weeks, capping off the brigade’s second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For a community that has coped with the loss of about two dozen soldiers during the past 12 months, Baumholder basked in a flood of positive emotions Monday night.
As the soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, marched into the Baumholder gym, tears of relief and joy streamed down faces in the stands. The soldiers returning Monday were part of Task Force 1-35 that served in the particularly dangerous western Iraq outpost of Ramadi.
“It’s just a blessing,” said Emma Donaldson, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Donaldson.
“They’ve been through so much. To see them return in one piece, it’s such a blessing.”
It’s a blessing that Emma Donaldson’s been waiting to rejoice in.
About five or 10 times during her husband’s deployment, she has gone in her bedroom, looked at her husband’s picture and listened to Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”
To welcome her husband, Emma wrote a poem on a bedsheet and hung it in their residence:
“You and I are connected in this world for a reason.
Even though the distance — 1,000+ miles,
Even though the time — a year,
It only brought us closer together.
I love you so much, that’s why I miss you. Welcome home.”
She wanted it to be the first thing her husband saw when he entered. “I want to pamper him,” she said. “He’s my best friend, not only my husband.”
Elizabeth Cornett’s pink T-shirt read “Preggo,” and her 3-year-old son Isaac’s shirt said, “I’m the big brother.”
She’s been pregnant for a few weeks, after her husband’s visit home about a month ago. Elizabeth Cornett was going to surprise her husband with the news.
Despite the clothing clues, it took Capt. Jonathan Cornett with HHC, 1-35, about 10 minutes to figure out that his wife was pregnant.
“It didn’t register at all at first, but I’m so excited,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Sitting in the Baumholder Hall of Champions gym before the soldiers’ arrival, Angie Poore was just glad to know that her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Poore with Company B, 2-6, was safe in Germany after his second deployment.
“I can wait here as long as it takes,” she said. “He’s safe. That’s all that matters.”
Angie Poore guaranteed she would cry upon embracing her husband.
Sure enough, as soon as the soldiers’ formation was dismissed, Angie Poore, Raymond Poore and their two children hugged together as a family. And her tears flowed.
3 weeks ago