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First main group from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade returns to Fort Drum from Afghanistan (VIDEO)

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FORT DRUM — After nine months apart, the first group of soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade were able to hold their loved ones again Wednesday evening.

Among the returning soldiers was 1st Sgt. Derek W. Kubacki, who said his seventh deployment of his 21-year military career would be his last, as he was getting ready for retirement.

“It’s great being home,” he said.

His wife, Claudia K., said the final deployment brought a wide range of emotions for herself and her children.

“It was the shortest, but it’s been the longest,” she said.

About 80 soldiers from C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment made up the returning group at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

During its nine months in RC-East, the Medevac unit worked at a rapid pace.

Lt. Col. Keirya Langkamp, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s rear detachment deputy commander, said the company completed 992 missions during their deployment, transporting more than 1,000 wounded soldiers from combat areas.

Wednesday’s return flight was the first major group for the brigade, which deployed to Afghanistan this spring with about 1,800 personnel.

Pfc. Jacoria L. Joseph, who performed signal work, said she was proud to be a part of the deployment and happy to be home.

“I’m glad to be back on American soil,” she said.

Her next stop: Georgia, so she could see her daughter.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph R. Hess was joined by his wife Doranna, who traveled from Idaho for the ceremony with their children Noel, 3, and Hannah, 3 months, and several other family members. Their oldest child, Tylee, 6, had to stay in Idaho for school, so the Hesses contacted her from the hangar by video chat.

The pilot said the deployment was the longest of his eight-year Army career.

“Man, I wish I was still there,” Chief Warrant Officer Hess joked, generating a smile and a slap on the chest from his wife.

“It’s awesome to be back with the family,” he added.

Among the things he said he was looking forward to was seeing his family in the Phoenix area and spending Christmas in Idaho, where his wife’s family lives.

“This is probably going to be the last deployment for a long time,” he said. “That’s nice.”

Video from the ceremony can be seen at http://wdt.me/10thCAB-return.

10th Combat Aviation Brigade soldiers return to Fort Drum
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