MP Battalion Returns from Iraq - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/21/05

MP Battalion Returns from Iraq

Soldiers honor their fallen comrades. Soldiers honor their fallen comrades.

Some Fort Stewart soldiers are happy to be home. More than 150 members of the 293rd Military Police are back after being away almost a year. Loved ones welcomed the group home yesterday.

The unit has been in Iraq since last March. The time apart was rough, not only for the families, but also the soldiers.

Amid heartfelt screams of joy for heroes just back from Iraq, Desiree Villarreal impatiently scanned the buses, hoping for a glimpse of her brother. Her entire family drove 14 hours to welcome back their loved one.

"I'm going to grab him and hug him and just hang on to him," she said.

Frank Villarreal, Jr., finally arrived, and embraced his family, glad to be home but knowing there's still two more people he wants to say hello to. His fellow soldiers who didn't make it home.

For the 293rd Military Police Battalion this homecoming was bittersweet. Unfortunately, these soldiers are returning home without two of their comrades. "I lost two of my friends, my roommate, and George Daniel Harrison, my best friend," Frank told us.

Now, for the first time since they died, Frank honored the heroes he called soldiers and friends. "I just miss them. They were good people. My friends."

It's a loss felt not only by the troops, but their families too. The families say the ultimate sacrifice made by the two men has only made the battalion stronger.

"It was hard, but we drove on," said Frank.

"They've really been through a lot," said Frank's mom, Cindy. "I just couldn't be any prouder."

Some of the soldiers with the 293rd say they also plan to visit the families of their fallen comrades in a few months.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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