GREGG K. KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pfc. Michael Winstead was greeted with tears of joy by his mother, Maria, after returning to Hawaii yesterday. However, his father -- a member of the California Army National Guard -- has just started a combat tour in Iraq.
A month’s many happy returns
More than 7,000 isle soldiers will return in the next four weeks
During the next four weeks, Schofield Barracks' new $23 million multideployment facility will be filled with leis, smiles, hugs and long kisses as spouses and children are reunited with the more than 7,000 soldiers who have been at war in Iraq for nearly 15 months.
There are bound to be many young toddlers like 21-month-old Kaniela Lyman, who will need time to get used to a new face at home.
Yesterday he shyly resisted all attempts by his father, Sgt. David Lyman, to get him to smile.
Kaniela was only 7 months old when his father, who was raised in Palolo Valley, saw him last.
This week Kaniela, whose amber-colored hair neatly flows to his shoulders, will get his first trim by his dad.
Lyman was among the 1,000 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team who returned home on four different chartered jet flights yesterday and early this morning.
The last one will occur Oct. 29 and will carry Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the 25th Infantry Division, and his staff. It will end the largest wartime deployment of Schofield Barracks soldiers.
GREGG K. KAKESAKO /
Sgt. David Lyman tried several times to coax a smile from his son, Kaniela, whom he had not seen since November. Lyman is one of more than 7,000 Schofield Barracks soldiers returning to Hawaii this month after spending nearly 15 months in Iraq.
The 25th Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, along with soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division, and 82nd Airborne Division, were assigned to Multinational Division North in northern Iraq. The task force was made up of 23,000 soldiers and suffered 195 deaths.
Pfc. Michael Winstead, 21, said he was relieved to be home after spending a year pulling patrols in Talafar.
But his thoughts are still in Iraq and with his father, who just arrived there last month after his California Army National Guard unit was mobilized and sent to Taji, just north of Baghdad, where the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Combat Brigade is expected to be stationed later this year.
Teresa Albuerne planned an all-American steak dinner with potatoes and all the trimmings for her husband, Pfc. Jose Albuerne, a convoy truck driver who had just completed his second Iraqi combat tour.
"He said he just wanted eat something really good when he got home ... a real meal," his wife remarked.
"That and spend time with Tyler," the couple's 21-month-old son.
During the past 14 months, Schofield Barracks' 3rd "Bronco" Brigade was responsible for an area covering 4,000 square miles -- about the size of Connecticut -- with more than 1.5 million people.
The Army said that the brigade trained 5,500 Iraqi army soldiers and 7,000 Iraqi police.
Brigade soldiers undertook more than $19.5 million worth of construction projects, including building five public health clinics, completing 20 hospital renovation projects, building five new schools and renovating six others.
During the 14 months the 25th Division was in Iraq, it lost 36 soldiers.
This was the 3rd Brigade's second combat deployment. In January 2004 the brigade was sent to Afghanistan for 12 months, where it lost 15 soldiers.