By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
293rd MP Company gets warm welcome
Spc. Benjamin Caro, 20, with the 293rd Military Police Company, proposes to Olivia Duran, 18, minutes after arriving home at Fort Stewart on Wednesday evening. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The excitement of loved ones returning home after a 12-month deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan, reached a crescendo when several white Army buses pulled up Wednesday evening to Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart.
One-hundred and forty-two soldiers from the 293rd Military Police Company marched onto the field before several hundred family members and friends. Despite waiting in the heat and humidity, people in the crowd enthusiastically held signs of welcome, waved tiny flags and some cradled new babies.
“My grandson was proud to serve his country,” said Bob Latmore of Osteen, Fla. Latmore’s grandson is 20-year-old Pfc. Frank Hilton.
“I was concerned about him but every time I talked to him he seemed really upbeat,” said Hilton’s mother, Lynnette Moore of Deltona, Fla.
After the National Anthem and Marne song were sung, grandparents and parents, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, sweethearts, siblings and  children rushed toward the once-orderly formation of soldiers.
Amid the pandemonium, Spc. Benjamin Caro, 20, hugged his father, tears of joy visible on his dad’s face. Caro folded his sweetheart, Olivia Duran, 18, into his arms for a tight embrace. He then dropped to one knee, pulled a red velvet box from his pocket and proposed.  Duran accepted.
Caro, like most in his company, safely returned home to begin anew. Four of his comrades were not as fortunate. Staff Sgt. Christopher Rudzinski was killed in action early in the deployment and 1st Lt. Bergan Flannigan, Pfc. Michael Araujo and Pfc. Stephen Marcum were seriously wounded in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Company commander Capt. Michael Thurman said losing Rudzinski to an IED on Oct. 16, 2009, was easily the most difficult incident he and his soldiers experienced during the deployment. Although sacrifices were made, the company accomplished its mission, Thurman said.
“Security increased tenfold in the time we were there,” he said. The captain said the 293rd mentored 950 Afghan police officers in Kandahar City.
“We trained with them, embedded with them,” Thurman said. He said their efforts also increased community policing by national Afghan police.
The 293rd MP Company has deployed five times since 9/11 — once to the Pentagon, twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan, according to the company timeline.
The company is one of four attached to the 385th Military Police Battalion, Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. William Fath said.
“MP companies deploy modularly,” Fath said. “The 546th MP Company will redeploy from Iraq on Saturday.”
“It all depends on where the Army needs its forces,” Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton said.
He said cavalry troops from Fort Stewart have deployed to Afghanistan.  The colonel added the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which deployed to Iraq earlier this month, initially was set to deploy to Afghanistan. The 4th brigade’s orders were changed in December, he said.
“You’ve written a page of history,” 16th Military Police Brigade rear detachment commander Col. Mary Meir told the 293rd. “It’s taking three MP companies to replace you guys.”
The 293rd MP Company falls under the 16th MP Brigade out of Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said. 
Meir thanked soldiers for their service and families for supporting them. She also offered advice.
“Be safe,” she told them. “Think before you act. Be patient. Reintegration will take some time.”

Sign up for our E-Newsletters