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?You can stand a little taller'

By Ed Brock

The soldiers in the Army Reserve 1015th Maintenance Company are back from doing a job in the Afghanistan war zone that has kept them out of the limelight but still deep in the trenches of the war on terror.

"While a vast majority of the media coverage has been focused on Iraq, your role in operations in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan has been no less important," said Brigadier Gen. Roger Ward in welcoming the nearly 60 reserve soldiers home on Wednesday. "You can stand a little taller for your accomplishments in Operation Enduring Freedom."

The lack of attention never bothered Spc. Sanchey Brown of Riverdale during the company's 8-month deployment.

"As long as I had the support and love of my family I was happy," Brown said.

Brown's family, wife Phoebe Brown, sister and brother-in-law Danashia and Chimanga Williams and their 3-year-old son Malik joined other family members of the 1015th for the homecoming ceremony at Army Garrison Fort Gillem.

"I've made him a home cooked meal," Phoebe Brown said.

Based in an Enduring Freedom staging area in Uzbekistan just north of Afghanistan, the job Brown and the other members of the 1015th had was to maintain the military vehicles, from Humvees to forklifts.

"Anything with wheels we had to work on," Brown said.

Though not as hot as Iraq, Afghanistan remains on a high threat level, Brown said. The United States ousted the Taliban that previously ruled Afghanistan shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. U.S. soldiers there continue to hunt for Osama bin Laden and remnants of his al-Quaida terrorist organization believed to be responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

The people of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan seemed all right, Sgt. Shanita Young said, but the soldiers were locked down tight in their bases at night and they drilled frequently for possible attack. Still, Young said her first deployment overseas was mostly an adventure.

"It was better than Iraq because we didn't have the imminent danger," Young said. "But we never forgot the soldiers there. We watched what was happening on the news."

Other members of the 1015th were stationed in Iraq, Young said. She added that the Army's chaplain service did a good job of keeping the soldiers grounded. Young's mother, Deborah Morris, said she just thanked God that her daughter was back on American soil.

"We're blessed, we're blessed," Morris said.

Some of the soldiers did have trouble adjusting, Staff Sgt. Charmine Forbes said, but having been deployed to the area before, and having a natural ability to adjust to every situation, she felt fine.

"I was kind of used to the place," Forbes said.

It helped to take pride in their work, Forbes said.

The sacrifices of the reservists' families did not go unnoticed during the ceremony.

"I can't say enough about our families. You're just as much a part of this as we are," Command Sgt. Maj. Leroy Bell told the crowd of loved ones.