Schofield marks Fourth of July - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Schofield marks Fourth of July

Brandi & Adam Smith Brandi & Adam Smith
Michelle Costa Michelle Costa
Matthew Kelley Matthew Kelley
Amanda Montgomery Amanda Montgomery

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The banners that hang on the fence outside Schofield Barracks Lyman Gate read "Welcome Home."

That message to returning troops underscored the emotions families on Hawaii's largest Army base felt at Schofield's annual Fourth of July concert, carnival and firework's show.

For Brandi Smith and her husband, Army Spc. Adam Smith, and their three sons the joy of Independence Day was found in simply being a family again.

"We actually deployed around July 4 last year. I was on a plane on my way to Kuwait," Adam Smith said. "So this year we've come full circle to be back home with my family enjoying Fourth of July, just spending time together."

But for Michelle Costa, the holiday is another one apart from her husband.  Army Master Sgt. William Costa is deployed for the fifth time.

"It's pretty devastating on the holidays," she said. "We have a big family and we're very family oriented. So when he's here we try to do everything together and holidays are a big part of that."

Right now 740 Schofield troops remain in Iraq while about 3,500 fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. They are far from home and family.

"You hate being separated from your family during the holidays, Fourth of July being one of them. But our soldiers have a mission. They know it and they're committed to it," said Col. Matthew Kelley of the 25th Infantry Division.

One of the busier tents at the Schofield celebration was the sign up for the Blue Star Card Program that helps soldier's spouses with childcare and discounts on family outings.

"We are a good support group. We have events all the time to keep them busy. They're with other Blue Star Card holders who are going through the same thing," coordinator Amanda Montgomery said.

The Smith's used the program last year when Adam was in Iraq for twelve months.

"Caleb is almost four so he knows what was happening - where daddy was," Brandi said.

"He still asks if I'm going to Iraq," Adam said.

To millions of Americans Fourth of July means independence. But for families of soldiers who have come home, the holiday is also about togetherness.

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