Families show support as Fort Bragg troops come home from rapid deployment, head to quarantine

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Hundreds of soldiers continue to arrive back home at Fort Bragg after rapidly deploying to the Middle East earlier this year.

Military spouses Katie Smith and Carolyn Fitzwater attend the welcome home parades for the paratroopers.

Since they can’t have a typical celebration right now, the spouses instead line up to show their support as buses with soldiers drive by.

“We can welcome them home, give them their heroes welcome just for this minute and a half it takes for them to get through,” Fitzwater said. “It’s spectacular.”

The paratroopers started deploying near the beginning of the year.

Both Smith and Fitzwater’s husbands are both still on that deployment.

“This whole time everything has been kind of surreal,” Smith said.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and I was not prepared to do it again, but somehow you just kind of pick up and do what you gotta do,” Fitzwater said.

The women are putting together care packages for the soldiers to get as they come home from the deployment and head straight to quarantine.

They created an online wish list for the items, and it was fulfilled in just a few days.

“It was a huge relief because now our job is so much easier,” Smith said.

“The more that we jump in, the faster the time goes by,” Fitzwater said.

They’re both expecting their husbands home soon, but in the meantime, they continue to be there for other families.

“We get to experience that joy of being the ones to tell them ‘thank you, welcome home, we’re happy to have you, we’re proud of you’,” Smith said.

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