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‘Fast and Furious’ Soldiers return to Family, friends

Spc. Shawn Glanton embraces his wife, Kimberly, and son, Parker, June 3 at Wings Chapel upon returning home from Afghanistan. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Spc. Shawn Glanton embraces his wife, Kimberly, and son, Parker, June 3 at Wings Chapel upon returning home from Afghanistan. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: June 5, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 5, 2014) -- Latishya Walk, Soldier and Army spouse, welcomed home her husband after nine months apart early June 3 along with nine other Families who were gathered at Wings Chapel to welcome home Soldiers from the 597th Ordnance Maintenance Company.

The long wait through the evening to the 2:30 a.m. arrival was worth it to her and her Family, who came from Ohio to see her husband return.

“We are both active-duty Soldiers and we have four daughters, so the hardest part has been separating my role as mommy and my role as sole provider while he has been away,” she said, eagerly checking her watch shortly before her husband’s arrival. “It is always hard to manage the household when one of us is away, so we are all thankful that things will return to normal soon.”

This was Walk’s husband’s fourth deployment, but she said their Family takes each one, one-at-a-time.

“We are really used to our routine, and when he first left, we had to create a new pattern. We just got used to it, so now it is going to be a challenge to get him back into the loop,” she said. “But that is an adjustment we are looking forward to. We are very proud of him, and as long as we support each other we can do anything.”

The Soldiers deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan and were continuing the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group’s longstanding deployment routine, something Col. Michael Shenk, Air Traffic Services Command and 164th TAOG commander, thanked them for.

“You guys did a great job seeing it through all the way to the end. Thanks for sticking it out with our continuous deployments,” he said.

Brianna Parnell, wife of Staff Sgt. Brandon Parnell, said this was the hardest deployment she had to withstand because the couple’s young daughter was sick throughout the nine months.

“It’s hard for my daughter not to have her daddy at home. She realizes he is gone, and every time the (video chat) rings she knows it’s him and she runs to the computer,” she said. “I just had to wake up every day with a positive attitude because in this type of job you have to.”

The Parnell’s planned a big surprise for their daughter, who was not at the ceremony, for later that morning.

“We are going to have him (video chat) with her later today, pretending like he is still deployed. And he will come through the door and surprise her,” she said.

CW4 Robert Martin also returned Tuesday and felt that the mission where they conducted airfield maintenance was a success, even though there were a few challenges along the way.

“We had many Soldiers get certified while we were inspecting airfields and landing zones for safety and operational effectiveness. We also helped design more effective use of combat airspace and helped numerous airfield managers in the southwest Asia theater and the south-central Asia theater with airfield management issues and air traffic control problems,” he said. “So, we were pretty busy.”

This type of experience can be really rewarding for many Soldiers because it is a career builder, said Martin.

“To see the different countries and interact with different services and different military occupational specialties is invaluable,” he said. “Soldiers can take away resilience, the ability to work in harsh and austere conditions, and a passion for their job that they might not have had before.”

For one Soldier who returned, it was the learning experience of a lifetime.

“This was my first deployment and I learned so much – I gained so much experience. I grew up a lot out there as a Soldier and as a person,” said Spc. Shawn Glanton. “I definitely learned that the work you put in is the work you get out.”

Glanton said being away from his son was 100 percent the hardest thing he has ever had to do.

“I missed my Family for sure – it was so hard being away from Parker. Thank God for (video chatting). The last 24 hours were rough knowing I was so close to home yet still so far away. I am glad to be home.”

This article was originally published at

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