A happy welcome home for soldiers and their families at Camp Mabry


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR


Posted on November 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 8 at 7:13 PM

AUSTIN -- It's been quite a while since two-year-old Alexandra Fulbright has hugged her big brother. Thursday, Alexandra and her family were ready to welcome home her hero, Spec. John Fulbright.

“We've been very excited for a couple of weeks. We're in kind of an adrenaline state,” said Jim Fulbright, Alexandra’s and John’s father.

The Fulbrights aren't alone.

“I pray every day for the return of the soldiers and of course my son,” Deloris Lewis said. 

Deloris Lewis has waited and worried through her son's three tours of duty. The day she and so many others have prayed for has finally arrived.

“I am so excited and so pleased that they're returning safe and everything is well. So excited, can't wait,” Lewis said.

Hundreds of families and friends cheered as the members of the 980th Engineer Battalion marched onto the field at Camp Mabry.

The brave 175 men and women spent more than a year in some of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan, providing logistics support plans and other duties as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Now their mission is at an end and families are reunited.

A tearful Sgt. 1st class Clyde Drapers couldn't stop hugging his mother.

“I've been waiting all day for this,” Drapers said. “All day.”

It doesn't take long for Alexandra to get the hug she had been waiting for as her brother ran to meet his family. 

“It's been a long time coming. It's great,” Spec. Fulbright said. “I love this uniform but I need to be a civilian again.”

It was also the first time for Spec. Fulbright to meet his new sister as he cuddled the two-month-old for the first time.

The majority of the soldiers reuniting with their families today are from the Central Texas area, but some are from as far away as Colorado and Minnesota.