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Stryker Soldiers Begin Returning This Weekend From Nine-month Tour in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait

Nicholas Vidro/1st SBCT/25th ID public affairs

UPDATED: The return of about 200 Stryker Brigade soldiers who’d been scheduled to arrive today (Fri) at Fairbanks International Airport has been delayed. An Army spokesperson said Thursday night that due to flight delays, the Fort Wainwright-based soldiers will be arriving later this weekend.

The Strykers are returning from nine month of duty in Iraq, Syria and Kuwait. The flight arriving this weekend will be the first of several over the summer that’ll bring back a total of about 2-thousand (2,000) soldiers who’d been deployed as part of what the Pentagon calls Operation Inherent Resolve.

Editor's note: This earlier version was posted Thursday afternoon.

The first flight of Fort Wainwright-based Stryker Brigade soldiers were scheduled to return Friday from a nine-month tour of duty in Iraq, Syria and Kuwait.

The 200 or so soldiers with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry are the advance party for some 2,000 soldiers with the Fort Wainwright-based unit that’ll be flying into Fairbanks International Airport in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to be expecting flights to come in throughout the entire summer,” says Lt. Austen Bouska, a spokesperson for the Brigade’s Task Force Reserve.

Bouska says after the Strykers offload from the chartered commercial airliner, they’ll be bused over Ladd Army Airfield on Fort Wainwright, where they’ll be welcomed in a brief ceremony. But he says unlike most such homecomings, the soldiers’ family members won't be present, because of concerns over spreading the coronavirus.

“It was a difficult decision to make,” he added. “I mean, it was determined that was the best course of action, in order to mitigate any kind of risk.”

Difficult, because being greeted by family is traditionally considered a huge morale-boost for soldiers coming back from overseas duty.

“That’s what you’re most looking forward to, on your return home,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Bouska says the soldiers will be required to restrict their activity for two weeks or so while their health is being monitored.

Credit Derek Mustard/U.S. Army
Maj. Charlie Dietz, a public affairs officer with the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, right, and Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a task force spokesperson, survey the destruction at Al Asad Air Base inflicted by Iranian militants' ballistic-missile attack on the facility.

Friday’s flight will be the largest single planeload of Strykers that’ll be returning from the theater. Soldiers from all seven of the brigade’s battalions were deployed for what the Pentagon calls Operation Inherent Resolve.Those include Strykers from cavalry, infantry, field artillery, engineering and logistical units.

The troops went sent in as part of a joint task force that officials said would mainly be helping train Iraqi troops and law-enforcement officers. Some Strykers were stationed at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq when it came under missile attack in January by Iranian militants.

Editor's note: This story was revised to update with information about the delayed arrival of the Stryker Brigade soldiers. 

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.