No matter how many troops return from the war, most people will tell you they never get tired of pinning on that yellow ribbon, and waiting to see the tearful reunions. There were hundreds more of them today; 281 soldiers from the Third ID were all smiles as they marched across Cottrell Field this morning. Their trip home took an extra two hours after one of their buses broke down coming from Hunter Army Airfield. But after six long months apart, soldiers and their families were just glad to finally be back together.
"It's great," said SSgt. Ramon Espinet. "I really, really missed them. Every day I was thinking about them and I'm glad to be home."
Eighty more Third ID soldiers returned home just nine hours before these troops. Can you ever have too much of a good thing? According to Fort Stewart, not when it comes to homecomings. WTOC was at Fort Stewart to help welcome the troops home this morning, which marked the fort's 20th homecoming from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the people there, who've been working around the clock to roll out the welcome mat for returning soldiers, say it's never a routine event.
"I love it. I love it. I love to see the guys come home," said Sgt. James Volley. "I love to see the families get together. It brings a tear to my eye."
Vietnam veterans like Butch Hemingway and William Zeigler have greeted soldiers at more than a dozen recent homecomings.
"Get tired? Never," said Hemingway. "We'll do it again. We were here for Desert Storm. We're here for the freedom of Iraq and if I'm around, I'll be here for the next one."
"This is something I will never get tired of because these homecomings mean a lot to these guys," added Zeigler.
Over the next few weeks, officials at Fort Stewart are looking forward to thousands more soldiers returning. The rest of the Third Infantry Division is expected back by the beginning of September.