Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
“Just being a family.”
That’s what Ignacia Montes said she is most looking forward to now that her husband Spc. Abel Montes is back from an eight-month deployment.
Spc. Montes and 28 other soldiers from the 15th Military Police Brigade returned from their deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Feb. 11. Throughout the deployment, soldiers provided expertise in detainee operations and provided additional support for those on the ground.
Families started showing up to the 705th MP Battalion (Detention) Company Operations Facility around 10:30 p.m. in anticipation of their family member’s return.
Ignacia Montes said it was a difficult being without her husband since their son, Emiliano, was only 1 month old when the soldiers left in June 2019.
“It was hard at first because obviously I wanted my baby to be with his dad, but obviously being a mom, it takes up a lot of your time,” Montes said. “It went by fast, but you feel like you’re missing family time and the family dynamic.
“I’m proud of him because it was a tough decision,” she said. “It was either missing out on his child’s first few months and major milestones, but it is something he wanted to accomplish and experience so I’m really proud of him, and it really did help our relationship.”
Spc. Montes said he learned a lot during the deployment.
“It is a good character builder. It really secludes you from everything else that is going on over here,” he said. “It makes you grow as a person, for me specifically because I’m 23 years old right now. It shows you a lot, especially with marriage. It fortifies marriage in general.”
Spc. Montes said he was excited to see his son in person though he has watched him grow via pictures.
“He’s pretty big,” he said. “He grew a lot.”
Throughout the deployment, the 29 soldiers received nearly 80 different awards and many personnel were promoted while serving.
“This platoon really came together over the course of an eight-month time period,” said 1st Lt. Callie Manning, mission OIC. “It was really awesome to see them develop professionally.”
Manning said she is looking forward to seeing her parents, Kimberly and Ken Johnson.
“It will be nice to see them and talk to them and just catch up on all the memories I missed out on for the last eight months,” she said.
Some soldier’s furry family members were even there to greet them.
Sgt. Nathan Svidler’s wife, Spc. Nisa Svidler, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Joint Regional Correctional Facility, brought their cat, Dasvidaniya, whose name means “goodbye” in Russian.
Spc. Svidler said she was nervous waiting for him to arrive.
“It was like the first time we went to the movies together,” Spc. Svidler said. “It is like that first date feeling all over again.
“But we support each other with goals and stuff and this was one of his goals,” she said. “His accomplishments are our accomplishments so I support him.”
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Buford, NCOIC, was greeted by his wife Michelle Buford and their two sons 5-year-old Lucas and 7-year-old Cameron.
“These last eight months have been challenging in ways that I did not anticipate, but I can honestly say that we have all grown a lot in different ways,” Michelle Buford said. “Our children are especially amazing. Military kids truly are remarkably resilient.
“We have had a lot of tough conversations these last several months, but I know that it has made us stronger as a family and as individuals,” she said. “I am always proud of what my husband does. His professionalism and dedication to his missions, along with his incredible work ethic and leadership abilities have impressed me since day one.”
Cameron Buford said he is proud of his dad, but couldn’t wait until he got home.
“It’s been sad. It is just not the same without him,” Cameron said. “He’s trying to save the whole entire world just from some bad guys from the last war.
“But now, when we get home, we get to stay home tomorrow and next week stay home,” he said. “Someday, he’s probably going to help me with my video game because I can’t seem to get started.”
Staff Sgt. Anthony Gunsby was reunited with his wife, Genesis.
“We had pretty good Wi-Fi, but you can only do Facebook call, which was spotty at times, so it was never consistent enough,” Gunsby said, “so I’m ready to just relax on the couch and enjoy the moment (with my family).”
Genesis Gunsby said this was her husband’s second deployment and having been former military herself, she understood why he deployed.
“I completely respect him and am thankful for everything he did and does and I’m glad that he’s back along with everyone else as well,” Genesis Gunsby said. “I’m actually thankful, too, that we get to sacrifice because a lot of people don’t really understand what that means. …That anxiety of something can go wrong. I don’t think a lot of people really understand that.”
Genesis Gunsby said, now that Staff Sgt. Gunsby is back, she’s most excited for their son, 3-year-old Anthony Jr.
“Him seeing a father figure around because he hasn’t for a while and spending time together, definitely,” she said.
Spc. Steven Alcantar had his fiancé, Halle Lane, waiting for him.
Alcantar said, this being his first deployment, he realized what is often taken for granted.
“Once you’re out there, and you’re actually experiencing real situations, you just look back and say, ‘Wow, I had it nice back home,’” Alcantar said. “We’re grateful for life and the friends and family we have. Since we’re apart from our families, we tend to look back and think I should have paid attention more, we should have actually been there and been more productive with my family and friends because we really couldn’t (while deployed).”
The couple was only engaged one month before the soldiers deployed, but Lane said wedding plans have been made and she was looking forward to Alcantar being home.
“I’m not worried about anything else,” she said. “I’m really proud of him. He loves what he does, so it is pretty easy to support him.”