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Lynch praises dog faced soldiers

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The man who commands the Third Infantry Division, Major General Rick Lynch, returned home to the Coastal Empire. The man who commands the Third Infantry Division, Major General Rick Lynch, returned home to the Coastal Empire.
More than 200 soldiers also returned home Monday. More than 200 soldiers also returned home Monday.
Third Infantry Division soldiers marching across Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart. Third Infantry Division soldiers marching across Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart.
Lynch praised those who maintained the home front for 15 months with soldiers away. Lynch praised those who maintained the home front for 15 months with soldiers away.

FORT STEWART, GA (WTOC) - The man who commands the Third Infantry Division returned home to the Coastal Empire with more than 200 soldiers Monday. Major General Rick Lynch reflected on his division's success in Iraq and the support they felt from being back at home.

"In the course of life, you get a choice between reading history and making history, and by God, we made history over the past 15 months," he said to hundreds of family members and soldiers at Fort Stewart Monday.

Minutes earlier at Hunter Army Airfield, he talked about the history Third Infantry made in Iraq.

"You can't go from tyranny to democracy overnight, you don't build up an economy overnight, so it was a struggle. We started at the bottom and worked our way up, 75 percent of my soldiers lived with the population," said Lynch. "Then the turning point started, when the people of Iraq saw that the enemy had been vanquished in that area and the coalition was there to stay, they said, 'how can we help?'

"We had 36,000 concerned citizens. We called them the Sons of Iraq and they secured their area and that happened in September and October and I saw a drastic drop in attacks and casualties. By the time we left, there was a 90 percent reduction in civilian casualties," he continued. "That's because the local people said, 'I'm tired of violence, I'm tired of attacks.'"

Lynch paused to remember 152 soldiers killed during the deployment and honored the heroes who continued the cause.

"I've changed my definition of what a hero is," said Lynch. "We held memorial services for each soldier killed and I attended 152 services. Someone who knew them would eulogize the soldier and everyone would be crying including the division commander. After the memorial services, we all donned the battle gear and went back out to fight the insurgents. That's the definition of hero to me."

But he also praised those who maintained the home front for 15 months with soldiers away.

"We love you all more than you'll ever know. God bless each and every one of you. Rock of the Marne!" he said to a thunderous applause.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com 

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