Home for Christmas: 30 soldiers return from active duty at Fort Campbell

By Abby Morris and Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com; ljenkins@starhq.com

   Some members of the 776th Maintenance Company came home for good from active duty at Fort Campbell, Ky., and will be able to spend the holidays with their families. A homecoming ceremony was planned for Saturday at 4 p.m. but due to the snow and ice, a decision was made early Saturday morning to cancel the ceremony.
   Capt. Larry Northcutt, commander of the unit, made the decision and notified the soldiers and their families that the ceremony was being postponed until a future date. He worried about the distance that many families might have to travel in the treacherous road conditions.
   Northcutt said approximately 30 soldiers returned home this weekend. Approximately 40 soldiers from the unit returned home in early September of this year.
   Lt. Col. Brad Moffitt said the ceremony might be postponed until the rest of the 776th returns home. He said it could possibly be held in February or March.
   However, not all soldiers from the unit will be able to come home this weekend. "We're leaving behind a rear detachment, so not everyone is coming home," Northcutt said, adding that "a little over 70" troops are going to remain at the base.
   Those soldiers will be on what is called an "involuntary extension" of duty, Northcutt said, adding that those members who are staying behind will continue to fulfill the mission which the 776th Maintenance Company was called to do when it was activated and deployed in January of this year.
   The involuntary extension could keep some members of the 776th Maintenance Company at Fort Campbell for as long as an additional year. "It's all mission dependent," Northcutt said.
   In January, the military unit was called to active duty at Fort Campbell to help other units which were using the Fort as a mobilization point prepare to ship out for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
   Since their arrival at the base, members of the unit have also helped demobilize units returning from combat as well as providing support to the base in the absence of the 101st Airborne, which makes its home there.
   The soldiers returning home this weekend have all been looking forward to being able to spend Christmas with their families, something they were not sure until recently that they would be able to do. "My family is happy to have me home," Northcutt said. "It was hard being away from home, even though we were just at Fort Campbell. I think I have the same opinion as everyone else does, we agreed to do our duty so we did it without question."