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Final group from Fort Drum’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team returns from deployment

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FORT DRUM — After more than a month of waiting, the final main group of soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, also known as the “Spartans,” returned Friday from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

The approximately 240 soldiers were greeted with a roaring applause from a capacity crowd filling the post’s Magrath Sports Complex. Both post and brigade leadership spoke highly of the work done by the brigade during their deployment.

Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley credited the brigade with “making a huge difference” in the lives of the Afghan people they worked with, including the creation of 18 schools that increased the number of local schoolchildren from 200 to 2,000.

Gen. Milley also acknowledged the sacrifice made by the brigade’s soldiers during the deployment, which included 38 soldiers killed in action and over 400 soldiers wounded.

Command Sgt. Maj. James J. Carabello, the unit’s highest-ranking enlisted member, spoke of the “visible progress” made by the brigade during the course of the deployment, including the improvement of area bazaars to help merchants and the “rebirth” of the country’s main highway.

“As people see this progress, they feel more comfortable in what their government and their military is doing,” Sgt. Maj. Carabello said.

Col. Patrick D. Frank, the brigade’s commander, spoke on the desire for the Afghan people to make improvements to their communities.

“They want to do it on their own, and now they are doing it on their own,” Col. Frank said.

Col. Frank also praised the North Country region for being “tremendous supporters” of the brigade.

While Friday’s ceremony welcomed the final main group of soldiers home, Sgt. Maj. Carabello said there is still about 60 soldiers still left in the country. He said they should be returning within the next 24 to 36 hours.

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