stryker brigade

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In a dusty, sagebrush-covered ravine, a gunner unit moves with the speed of a pit crew to load a shell the size of a small bomb into a howitzer. Seconds later: boom! The wheel-mounted gun fires the shell thousands of meters down range.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

For more than a decade, Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been sending soldiers off to war and welcoming them back home. Now this cycle of deployments and homecomings is winding down.

Over the next month, more than 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade will return home. More than 200 were welcomed back Wednesday. And this time they don’t expect to go back to Afghanistan.

In many ways, this homecoming is like all the others. There’s an Army band. Anxious families wait on gymnasium bleachers. Homemade signs at the ready with messages like “We Missed You Daddy.”